(), literally "painful car", is a for an fad of individuals decorating the bodies of theirwith fictional characters of , , or(especially or ). These characters are predominately "" female. The decorations usually involve paint schemes and stickers. Automobiles are called itasha, while similar andare called ITANSHA () and ITACHARI (), respectively.
The cars are seen prominently in places such as(),(), or().
In 1980s, when was at the zenith of its economic might, Tokyo's streets were a parade of luxury import cars. Among them, the "itasha"--originally Japanese slang meaning an imported Italian car--was the most desired. However, in 1990s, the term "itai" was adopted to describe intense, cultish otaku associated with serial killer . Since then, itasha (as the decorated vehicle) was derived from combining thewords for itai (, painful) and sha (, vehicle). Itai here means "painful", which can be interpreted as "painfully embarrassing" or "painful for the wallet" due to the high costs involved. The name is also a pun forcars (Itaria-sha), truncated in Japanese slang as Itasha ().
The decoration was started in 1980s with character plushies and stickers, but only became a phenomenon in the 21st century, when otaku culture became relatively well known via the Internet. The earliest known report of the decoration vehicle in convention began in 2005-08, in 68.
In 2007, the first Autosalone (Autosar ne), an itasha oriented convention, was held in , near the site of .
INVOLVEMENT IN MOTORSPORTS
Nowadays, the involvement of itasha in real motorsport events has been one of the unique features in Japan's motorsport industry. Race cars in itasha decals can be seen from regional club event to international-level races (including events under ). Participant are also not bounded by privateers amateurs. Many professional teams, or even manufacturer-backed teams would not mind to turn their race cars into itashas: This not only act as a alternative of sponsorship decals (if the character or design is provided by the sponsor), it is widely considered as one of the many ways of expanding their team's fanbase or promoting the event they participating.
Similar involvement of itashas can be seen in motorcycle or even open-wheeler events.
Similarly decorated vehicles have been found in Taiwan, Philippines, (whose designs also influenced designs placed on ), , and the .
VEHICLES OWNED BY CHARACTER RIGHTS OWNER
ACID Co., Ltd. ( games developer)'s executive director Hirohiko Yoshida was reported to own -themed , , . The cars were unveiled in 2008ge Nitro+ in Akibahara UDX Gallery.
An official -themedwas unveiled in Macross Galaxy Tour Final. It was later redesigned for the Macross Super-Dimensional Space Launch Ceremony.