Or: Five Reasons Why Bosozoku Isn't Steaming Tawagoto

In Defense of the Kaidō Racer

What is bosozoku? Bosozoku is a type of car modification originating in Japan sometime in the 1980s. The term literally means "reckless gang" and is used more often outside of the car community to refer to the semi-yakuza youth subculture. The bosozoku frequently drive these cars and similarly modified motorcycles, which they are better known for. I suppose one could compare it to the American 1950s greaser subculture.

Now that I have that out of the way, let's get one thing off the bat: I acknowledge the fact that the bosozoku style isn't for everyone, and I'm certainly not trying to get everyone to like it.

Oh wait. Shit. Yes, I absolutely am. Although I'm not the world's greatest expert on bosozoku (and I've never been to Japan), I have recently become very interested in it and I've noticed that it's a style that has a lot of haters.

Here are five reasons why you should respect it.

1 - It's Not Rice

Seriously. Bosozoku isn't some tarted-up Cavalier with a plastic blower and LEDs in the rear lights. It takes skill to build, just like any real custom car. Look at these two pictures as an example: before and after. Some are more ruggedly built, using sheetmetal carved by someone in their own little garage. Whether a bosozoku car is more tasteful than a ricer I leave up to you, but they're usually not made from supermarket parts.

2 - Everything Has Some Bosozoku In It

Or rather, bosozoku has a bit of everything in it. And by "everything" I mean a lot of types of car modification one encounters in the Land of the Rising Sun. Okay, I guess that wasn't very clear. Bosozoku has the base car of the kyusha (old JDM cars with mild mods), the stance of the shakotan (old stanced JDM cars: the term literally means "low car"), and the paint of the yankii (old JDM cars inspired by period race cars). My point here is, one should understand that it is the combination of all these styles and more.

3 - There are Varying Degrees of Bosozoku

This is important: not all bosozoku is crazy wings and senseless Gundam-upping of a car. Some of it is more mild and tasteful. Of course, this makes one wonder if less crazy bosozoku is not one of the styles described above. It's all very confusing. Personally (and this is just me) I think less crazy bosozoku can be classified as the kaido racer: bosozoku without the cocaine. If someone more knowledgeable than me knows for sure the difference between bosozoku and kaido racer, please comment below.

4 - Six-Year-Old You Would Probably Love It

He or she absolutely fucking would. Don't deny it. The crazily exaggerated wings, fins, stanced wheels and freaky paintjobs would appeal to even the most mild-mannered little nerd. And that's important, because we can't let ourselves let go of our childish sense of wonder. Bosozoku caters to that, if only visually.

5 - Don't Take it Too Seriously

By saying that, I don't mean that bosozoku is any lesser or worse than other styles of car modification or that it doesn't deserve your respect. What I mean is that I think there's a real light-heartedness at the center of bosozoku, despite its roots half in the Japanese gangster scene and half in 1980s Japanese endurance racing. If bosozoku were a movie, it would be Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Scott Pilgrim was a phenomenal movie, but it didn't demand to be taken seriously. Doesn't mean it's worse than Citizen Kane, just that it didn't ask you to grant it the same dignity.

Okay. I'm done. You can leave. Go back to your usual Oppo-ing.

>drops mic<

>crickets chirping<