Itasha (痛車(いたしゃ)) The word itasha, which literally means “painful car,” is derived from the kanji for itai (”painful”) and sha (”car”). The word also appears to be a reference to the Italian sportscar, also known as itasha (although the ita for Italian is spelled with katakana instead of kanji), a conventional sort of chick magnet driven by a different sort of guy.
Internationally renowned pop artist Murakami Takashi has said that “Itasha is the desire to be seen and the joy of being embarrassed. It’s like S/M play, with heavy emphasis on the M component.” Drivers are typically between twenty and fifty years old and ride in packs, often gathering in car parks to show off. Due to media attention, there was a boom in 2008. Magi, the organizer of Fuji Speedway Itasha Meeting held in May 2008, reports that more than 300 itasha registered. ItaG, a nationally syndicated magazine, organized another “festa” in front of Fuji TV in Odaiba on November 2008. Aside from the increasing cost of cars and gasoline, some spend $10,000 or more on decorating their wheels. But others have taken to drawing and applying their own itasha decals. For those wannabes who can’t afford a car, the solution has been the emergence a new kind of itai bike gang culture. Itansha, or itai motorycycles, are equipped with TV’s tuned to anime and booming sound systems playing anime them songs.
Further down the food chain are itachair, or “painful chariots,” pedal bikes tricked out with anime images in the spokes of the wheels.
Amid the current itasha boom, some OTAKU have taken to calling their cars moésha, or moé cars. They believe this sounds betten than itasha, which has a negative meaning. The annual Moésha Meeting in Kanishi, Gifu Prefecture, drew 600 cars in 2008.
Have you seen an itasha, itai motorcycle or itai bike?