ZokuSha Whaaa!?

I’ll try my best to give a run down of the BosoZoku/ZokuSha lifestyle here, I suck at explaining so bear with me…

ZokuSha kids are nothing more than your local street racers – but in Japan. The term Zoku 族 means tribe and/or clan, it is often used as a suffix to subcultures within Japan. Groups started appearing among Japanese youth after WWII in the 1950’s and 60’s; a novel called Season of the Sun, by Shintaro Ishihara, gave rise to a reckless and care-free generation. ‘Street’ groups continued to manifest into the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s with a booming car culture ranging from highway racers(Roulette-zoku or Circuit-zoku), drag racers(Zeroyon-zoku), drifters(Dorifto-zoku), Vanners (Vanning-zoku), Touge battlers(Rolling-zoku), and of course Bakusozoku – Boso tribe. ZokuSha kids are commonly mis-labeled as BosoZoku, meaning violent running-tribe or violent speed-tribe – another term, used to describe the motorcycle gangs that sprang up in the rapid automotive industry expansion of the 1950’s. The first BosoZoku were known as kaminari-zoku or Lightning-tribe and mostly came from lower socioeconomic classes and publicly displayed their disaffection and dissatisfaction with Japanese mainstream society. They would style and modify their motorcycles in peculiar ways, such as large fairings and loud exhausts. ZokuSha kids are nothing like the early BosoZoku bikers, however there is a group/style reffered to as Kaido Racer which is be a mashup of ZokuSha and BosoZoku. They drive ‘BosoZoku’ styled cars slowly down highways while zig-zgging and revving their engines, often with passengers hanging out the windows waving bats and flags and accompanied by BosoZoku bikes.

Within the Bosozoku subculture there are sub-subcultures; Shakotan style, Yankii style, Kyusha style, Garuchan(Grachan) style, and then the full-out Bosozoku style.

The literal translation of Shakotan is “low car” and generally refers to extremely lowered streetcars with wide low-offset wheels and stretched tires.

Yankii style is basically the same as Shakotan except more race-inspired; so that means wide racing rims, widebody, large wings, etc. The term “yankii” stems from Yankee – the term for people who followed the 1970’s and 80’s street fashion of colorful Aloha shirts, largely followed by gangsters.

Kyusha literally means “Japanese Old Classic Car”, mostly equivelant to Muscle and Pony cars here in the US. These cars are moderately customized via period-correct styling of small fender flares, duckbill spoilers, chinspoilers, and low-offset wheels.

Garuchan or Grachan style also comes from the 70’s and 80’s, except this time not so much as from the street but straight from Fuji Speedway. The Zokusha kids would have large meets in the parking lot and got a lot of the inspiration for these style of cars directly from the Group 5 Super Silhouette cars competing in the Grand Championships at the time. Wide racing rims and tires, custom wide-body aero, full race suspension and drivetrain – in essence, replica Grp. 5 cars.

Bosozoku style is a mash up of all styles mentioned above – extremely lowered, extremely wide, extremely stretched, extremely custom street cruisers created by decades of home-grown inspiration.

Another subculture often associated with BosoSoku is the Bippu or VIP culture which is shared between gangsters/mobsters and ZokuSha. These cars are extremely low luxury cars, often domestic, with big rims and lots of shiney things.


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