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Itasha: Modification of Anime Themed Cars

Itasha is a Japanese slang term for a car that is decorated with anime / manga character-themed stickers. Ever seen a car with Japanese cartoon character stickers? That’s the itasha car. Indeed, cars with visual modifications like this are rarely found everyday.

Stickers are indeed the most inexpensive and practical form of modification. Its function is also 100% is just an additional visual appearance. With stickers, the car can be sweetened and gives its own identity that distinguishes it from other cars.

On Itasha cars, these stickers are not just sweetening or giving an identity. There are other destinations such as a tribute or proof of love for a favorite anime character.

This visual modification is indeed synonymous with otaku or a big fan of anime / manga. At first the type of car was still mostly in the form of an ordinary city car. But in its development, itasha began to expand and become a trend or new visual modification style. Some anime-themed racing cars began to appear, for example, in the Super GT racing championship or in the D1GP drifting race car . Even some premium sports cars or luxury cars are also modified by this visual style.

In this review we will discuss this itasha car. Starting from the early history, its spread, and its influence.

Understanding Itasha

The direct translation of itasha is “pain car”. Ita from the word itai which means sick. Sha means car. But not only cars, this term can also be used for other vehicles such as motorcycles. As for bicycles, yes there really is a bicycle version, it’s called Itachari. Chari means bicycle.

Why is it called a sick vehicle?

Owning or riding itasha will be painful because it is often the subject of scorn by people. Fanaticism towards cartoon characters is often seen negatively by the public. Moreover, anime characters that are used as themes are often cute anime girls. This gives a childish, ridiculous, or even lonely “forever alone” image to its owners. So, get ready to be laughed at, sneered at, despised. Painfully embarrassing . Maybe that’s the meaning of itasha.

Early History

The term Itasha actually has existed in Japan since the 80s. But at that time, the term had another meaning. At first this was an abbreviation of Itaria-sha which means Italian vehicle or premium Italian car.

In the 90s, anime fans in Japan began to decorate their vehicles with anime stickers and trinkets. They were influenced by the modified style of Bosozoku (Japanese street automotive aisles) and Dekotora (ornamental trucks). They named the car to decorate the theme of this anime with the term Itasha.

The meaning is as explained before, a vehicle that can make users hurt. But that’s where the value of sacrifice and proof of love for anime characters are preferred. So a kind of tribute or offerings to favorite anime characters.

In addition, it is fun to use items that are wrapped in pictures that we enjoy, right? Yes maybe a kind of wallpaper that we like to install on a computer or on a cellphone. Only this is in the car.

At that time also appeared vehicles decorated with photographs of female singer or idol / girl band artists. Have you ever seen a truck decorated with photos of women? Nah like that, hehe.


In the 90s, the term itasha as an anime theme car was already available but not yet widely known. In short, it’s still a term in certain circles such as anime otaku fans.

The development of printing technology and the internet in early 2000 made this style of visual modification spread widely. Itasha as a culture was first raised to the public at the Comikets (Comic Markets) event in early 2005.

Two years later, in 2007 the first time there was a big meetup of anime-themed car owners. This event began with an online community of cute anime girl fans (moe). It was they who then sparked the idea of ​​a large-scale meeting at the Auto Salon (Autosaroone).

In November 2008, nearly 600 anime-themed vehicles gathered in the Odaiba district. This gets a lot of attention from the wider community in Japan. Especially at the event also exhibited a Ferrari F430 Spider that had been modified into an Itasha car!

From the event not only nationally, but the international community began to pay attention and preach about Itasha. The big event at Odaiba received coverage on several well-known blogs such as Kotaku and Jalopnik.

Now this Japanese cartoon-themed car can often be found in shopping areas that sell anime / manga products such as Akihabara, Nipponbashi, and Osu.


As itasha grew in popularity, this modification began to be seen in several sports cars and race cars. In 2008 a car decorated with the Hatsune Miku theme participated in the Super GT car racing championship. Anime-themed cars are also seen at the famous Japanese drifting championship D1 Grand Prix.

This phenomenon of visual modification also makes some Japanese car manufacturers use anime characters as a marketing booster. Toyota uses Hatsune Miku to sell Corollas and Mazda uses Kirino characters from the Ore no Imouto anime series .

As with other Japanese cultures, the influence of itasha also spread to other countries. This anime-themed car has communities outside of Japan such as America, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Itasha Indonesia was founded in 2012. Its members now have more than 100 cars from various cities in Indonesia. They often attend the toy-themed or Japanese-themed events.

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