Japanese ‘Bosozoku’ Biker Gang-themed Mods are Getting Popular Outside Japan, But Why?

Bosozoku, a traditional Japanese biker gang, is gaining recognition in the United States. Fans build Bosozoku styles such as “takeyari” exhaust and “deppa” chin spoilers to reenact the styles they admire. Here’s why.

What exactly is a BOSOZOKU?

Petersen Automotive Museum, the largest auto museum on the West Coast. That’s where I first saw a Bosozoku-styled car, also known as “zokusha”, being exhibited in the US when I visited in November 2018.

A Toyota Cressida built with bosozoku style by Moonlight Runners
A Toyota Cressida built with bosozoku style by Moonlight Runners

The museum had many Japanese cars on display as a permanent collection but at that time when I visited, the museum hosted a special exhibition that traces back the history of Japanese cars. Many cars with extreme historical value such as the Toyota 2000GT, Mazda Cosmo Sport, and Honda N600 were on display.

And among them, I found a 1980 Toyota Cressida that had a “takeyari” (bamboo spear) exhaust pipes and excessive “deppa” (bucktooth) chin spoilers, both being typical characteristics for a zokusha in the 1980s.

A customized Toyota Mark II GX81 was also displayed next to it, which was a car that is owned by a Japanese and has been sent from Japan for this exhibition.

What surprised me when I read the description was that “BOSOZOKU” was recognized as one of the customization categories.

By the way, “bippu” (VIP) style, based on Japanese luxury sedans, was also introduced as one of the most unique and Japanese custom styles as well.

And when I knew the Cressida was a car that was made by an American builder in the US, I was totally shocked. The builder was Moonlight Runners from Orange County, CA.

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