Takeyari, Japan's Crazy Bamboo Spear Exhaust Fetish for Bosozoku Cars

Takeyari, Japan's Crazy Bamboo Spear Exhaust Fetish for Bosozoku Cars 1 photo
Photo: original image by autoevolution
Even though we're living in the digital age and Google can supposedly translate every language, computers still can't explain the finer nuances of a culture. So even though you think you've seen everything there is to see from Japan, you've only really scratched the surface. It's a JDM thing, you wouldn't understand!
For example, did you know that over there people often refer to a 1972 Nissan 2000GT-R as the Kenmeri Skyline? That's because of an advertisement shown at the time that depicted a young couple (Ken and Mary) who enjoyed driving in the countryside. The models before that were called “Hakosuka”, loosely translated as Boxy Skyline.

But the way they tune their cars is always the most exciting part. In my opinion, only the Germans and Brits can match the insane car culture in Japan. You've seen the Liberty Walk widebody kits, watched all those low-riders scrape the asphalt and gazed at their extreme camber angles. But what do you know about takeyari exhaust systems? It's a JDM thing, you wouldn't understand!

Takeyari is about as obscure as the Shinto Kanamara Matsuri or "Festival of the Steel Phallus" in the sense that some people know about it, but the details are shrouded in mystery. It's less about having the extra performance and more about being over-the-top and having fun with customizations.

Usually, the pies come out the back or the side of the car and shoot straight up. Most owners agree that it's best to have them welded, not bent because it makes them point-looking, just like the lines of the classic cars. The tops are cut obliquely, which earned the nickname "bamboo spears" for obvious reasons.

Pretty soon though, people were adding exhaust pipes wherever they could, sometimes tens of them fanning out.

Nobody actually knows where the idea started, and some of the guys putting takeyari exhausts on their cars do it as a joke, sometimes taken as far as making the shape of… man genitals. In most cases, the pipes come off when the owner doesn't want attention, leaving behind the pimpin' Japanese cars.

Some have suggested the strictly enforced driving regulations in Japan have forced drivers to become more creative with their cars' cosmetic side instead of adding performance. To understand just how crazy the Bosozoku scene is, we suggest you watch this 2011 clip called "Japanese Ricer VIP Convention!" which has been dubbed the weirdest car convention on the planet.

Some say that Bosozoku is a ricer style, but we don't think that' correct. You see, "ricing" is about adding spoilers on a front-wheel drive Civic and pretending it's fast, whereas this is just… being different. Wikipedia says the word Bosozoku means "violent running gang" and that it's a part of Japanese subculture. It's usually associated with clubs of motorcycles, which can also have custom exhaust systems.

In fact, some have suggested that the bamboo spear exhaust is derived from classic American chopper bikes with vertical exhaust pipes famous in the 70s. Others believe that it's inspired by Group 5 racing.

Another feature commonly seen on bosozoku cars is an oil radiator placed outside of the front bumper and with its rubber hoses showing. We could argue that this is another chopper-inspired feature. However, designs now include stars, fans and almost any shape you can think of.

Bosozoku exhaust in manga and toys

Japan has many mangas about gangs of "bad apples", so it's fair to say these crazy cars appear in comic books. We're not going to show you any of those and instead we're going to show you the Mad Manga toy collection from Hot Wheels. It was released in 2012, complete with wider fenders, skirts and tall exhaust systems. If that doesn't prove takeyari is a phenomenon, nothing will.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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