“The first time I shot for this project was in 2000. Intersection Magazine had contacted me for their launch issue and asked if I could shoot something interesting in Japan. That’s when I came up with the idea of Dekotora. I shot them in various locations in Japan, going out to events in the suburbs where lots of drivers would gather.
Due to the sheer size of the trucks I had to shoot them like ‘snaps’, using a 6×7 camera on location. But I then decided what I really wanted to do was a more controlled studio shoot. But the trucks’ sheer size made it impossible, so then came Vanning.
I discovered Vanning [in which smaller vehicles are given similar decorative treatments to those of the Dekotora] through my truck research and I thought this would fit perfectly for my next project. People may find it odd, or bizarre but I thought it would be great to get really beautiful studio shots of these vehicles. I wanted to shoot them as unique and beautiful still life objects, and show them to the people who look down on this sort of culture as the actual works of art I see them to be.
Inspired by my studio shots of Vanning I then decided to shoot Scooters, and lastly Dekochari [literally meaning ‘decorated bike’] which I shot in 2007 and 2008.
Special thanks to Intersection, Blunt, Amsterdam World Wide and most importantly, the owners of all the vehicles.”
An edit of this series, entitled Customized, appeared at London’s Printspace Gallery in January theprintspace.co.uk
Satoshi Minakawa was born in Japan in 1971. From 1992 to 1994 he studied at Western State College, Colorado, USA before going on to study photography at the Art Institute of Colorado from 1994 to 1998. In 1999 he returned to Japan where he worked for clients including Sony, Nike and Mazda before moving to London where he took an MA in photography at the Royal College of Art. After graduation in 2007, Minakawa was signed by the Blunt Photographic Agency where his clients include Audi, Skoda, Landrover, Nike and Timberland.