Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Police crackdowns fast making hot-rodder spectacles a fading memory

24 Comments

Japan's noisy bosozoku (hot rod gangs) used to assemble in large numbers, bringing hell-bent-for-leather antics and ear-splitting exhaust sounds to otherwise quiet suburban communities. But as Nikkan Gendai (Oct 13) reports, the gangs, particularly those in Kansai, are only a vestige of their once-noisy glory, and last year might have seen their dying gasp.

Bosozoku in Kansai had once made an annual tradition of converging in the Osaka suburb of Kishiwada around the time of that town's famous "Danjiri Matsuri" (cart-pulling festival), an event that brings thousands of spectators to the town to watch rival neighborhood groups engage in competition by pulling carts through the streets.

But police have been cracking down hard over the past four years, and when the gangs attempted to organize a revival last November, the exuberant youngsters were quickly rounded up.

"Last November 14, communicating via social media, 32 bikes with a total of 53 guys and girls who were high school or middle school students got together," a high school student relates. "They were detained by the cops and other authorities."

On the night of November 14, 2020, a total of 53 high school students, students at occupational training schools and part-time workers converged on a park in Izumi City.

According to reports from the scene, the bikers were not clad in the customarily colorful red or white gear of dyed-in-the-wool bosozuku, but wore conventional attire. And for most, it was their first time to turn out. Members of long-established hot-rod gangs like the notorious "Black Emperor" group were nowhere to be found.

Their 2-wheeled vehicles included only one with 250cc engine displacement and another with 125cc displacement, with the remainder made up of scooters and mini-bikes having smaller engine sizes. Out of the 53 detained, 46 were males. Of the seven girls, one drove her own vehicle and the remaining six rode along as pillion passengers.

The police cited the noisy night riders for such offenses as driving without a license, carrying an unauthorized passenger, operating without a muffler and driving vehicles to which illegal modifications had been made.

Kishiwada residents fully cooperated, telephoning the local police to complain when the hot rodders began carousing in the parking lot of a convenience store. When patrol cars approached them, the hot rodders reportedly fled in all directions, behaving, as the expression goes, "like a bunch of baby spiders."

Meanwhile, on a 2.4-kilometer-long stretch of National Highway 26 that runs through Kishiwada, the hot rodders disregarded traffic signals, made zigzag lane-changing maneuvers (called dako or "snake running" in Japanese), and engaged in other wild behavior.

"Police were able to charge the 53 individuals thanks to use of images taken with their cameras, both mounted on vehicles and those set up on the roadside," a police source tells Nikkan Gendai. "The images were subject to analysis and violators identified.

"About half of those questioned claimed they had never met any of the others in person prior to that day, and the group did not appear to have any leader," the source continued. "Nor did any of them hold higher or lower ranks than their peers. Since they didn't have any contacts with local residents, the investigation turned out to be very time consuming.

"A few bosozoku groups still exist in Osaka, but even the larger ones only consist of about 10 vehicles. It's been a long time since we've had to round up this many," he added.

In past years, in the early morning hours of November 3 (Culture Day, a national holiday), hot rodders turned out on Highway 26 in Kishiwada for what's been named the Irebun-surii (11-3, a reference of the date). This once attracted as many as 2,500 spectators, who are called the kitai-zoku (hopeful tribe).

In 2016, the crackdowns began, with the prefectural police mobilizing 930 cops along a 2-kilometer long stretch of road from which traffic was blocked off. Because of that, no "parades" have taken place since 2017, and while bosozoku did show up last year, they attracted no spectators.

The hot rodders are a nuisance as well as a danger to both local residents and cars on the road, the writer notes, with the implication that if their activities do finally end it will be good riddance.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
Login to comment

New times, I guess. Even for the bosozoku.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

They're still a thing in Ibaraki, I believe. Another reason for that 47/47 ranking : (

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Thankfully we got rid of these goons in my part of Tokyo. Good riddance.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

But as Nikkan Gendai (Oct 13) reports, the gangs, particularly those in Kansai, are only a vestige of their once-noisy glory, and last year might have seen their dying gasp.

Remember having seen a small piece on the Bosozoku (暴走族) on NHK 3-5 years ago.

The "historical/original" Bosozoku's fading away from public view had hardly anything to do with a police crackdown but age kicking in. The Bosozoku phenomenon is decades old and their members simply reached their 60s.

Some were still riding in small group on week-ends as tourists (with gentrification being a major factor), others simply changed their lifestyle completely and stopped riding once finding the "right one", settling down and having kids. Other, well, never changed and ended up in jail for good, I guess. I think the keyword for that generation was "lifestyle", a lifestyle they would spend every Yen on.

*Their 2-wheeled vehicles included only one with 250cc engine displacement and another with 125cc displacement, with the remainder made up of scooters and mini-bikes having smaller engine sizes. Out of the 53 detained, 46 were males. Of the seven girls, one drove her own vehicle and the remaining six rode along as pillion passengers.*

The "current" Bosozoku are possibly a different type of youngsters, possibly with less money to spend on what is less of a "lifestyle" to them. I would be interested in seeing a piece on the current generation of riders.

In '97, I stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of Kyoto and every single night the Bosozoku ran down the main road with police cars (with sirens) in tow. They would do that 2-3 times and only then, you would be able to sleep. These days, I doubt kids with scooters and mini-bikes would keep me awake...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Good riddance to these losers. I actually moved away from Yamato because of these loud folk constantly revving their engines at all hours of the morning. Totally selfish. I hate them.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The actual Bosozoku gangs are pretty much non-existant, or have evolved into Han-Gure type street gangs.

Chiba, Nagoya, and Okinawa have a large amount of “Kyusha-Kai” however. They are mostly middle-aged former hotrodders who are reliving their glory days. The do ride the noisy straight pipe exhaust bikes, but they wear helmets and are very careful to stay within the legal modification and noise regulation parameters.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

poke a hole in the exhaust of their hairdryer powered motorbikes and weave around generally annoying people.......slow clap

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I came to Japan a long time ago, 1976, and lived in Kobe. That year after sunset when the Kobe Festival finished, bosozoku took over the streets. It was basically a riot.

I had never seen anything like it. The riot police were also out in force. They were everywhere. The residents of Kobe were also out to watch the spectacle.

The police charged the crowds. They didn't, couldn't, disperse them.

There cars and bikes. Taxis were turned over. Early the next morning I went out with my camera and took photographs of wrecks, upside-down taxis, burnt out cars. One person died. I think he was squashed by by a police truck that people were trying to overturn.

The following year there were riot police everywhere in the city. There was no riot.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

From what I've read, it would appear that Fukuyama City in Hiroshima Prefecture has the biggest bosozoku problem. The area is known to have pockets of hard-core poverty.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The way things are going with more rules and regulations

We're all going to be locked up in little boxes having our food pushed under the door so we don't bother each other.

Talk about "kill joy"

Nobody getting hurt and its not happening all the time as some say...

Now go back to sitting front of the screen cause those nasty people with their kids bikes are gone !

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

They're still available in my inaka part of Japan. I almost flattened one such idiot zigzagging in front of my car the other day. It would have been considered 100 percent my fault, I would have gotten arrested, etc. Called the police, told them I have the whole thing on video. They told me to stick it up my backside, as they couldn't care less.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Good. Crack down more on them.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I have to say, the noise pollution in Japan is out of this world.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Pukey2

I have to say, the noise pollution in Japan is out of this world.

Then you are living in the wrong place. As I type this, there is not a single sound outside except that of nature. Overnight it's perfect silence except for the crickets.

No fast cars or motorbike gangs.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

My wife thinks it is because they have become Dasai! No longer cool to be a rebel/thug without a cause. Was always just a stepping stone /training ground for yakuza.

To say the police cracking down has made any difference is a joke though. If you have ever seen the police trying to catch them it is like the keystone cop comedies of yore...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In Kanagawa down near Enoshima I have counted over 120 at a time. Across the street where I watched from is a Konan and two police officers came out and shot pictures then went back inside. I crossed the street to go ask them what would they do with the pictures.

But there was a note on the door saying they were out on patrol. I shook my head in disbelief.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Koban, Police Box

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

We all know Japan’s chief crime detection/prosecution weapons are cameras & smart phone tracking. - Perhaps they saw someone coming and were more afraid of having to use some English than the 120+ bosozoku?

*- @ShinkansenCaboose 2:28pm: “In Kanagawa down near Enoshima I have counted over 120 at a time. Across the street where I watched from is a Konan and two police officers came out and shot pictures then went back inside. I crossed the street to go ask them what would they do with the pictures. But there was a note on the door saying they were out on patrol. *( + )

Perhaps the note on the door read: “Out for Donuts”? (Is it a exclusive U.S. ‘tactic’?)

*“I shook my head in disbelief” ( *+ )

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Good start, but there's a lot more they can do to end it than just waiting for a big party to assemble.

That said, I doubt it is a "crackdown" ending them so much as the price of gas.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I've been thinking about my own crackdown, involving a strong laser pointer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hahaha, that made me laugh. In three decades, the police have been unable to do anything about the bosozoku. When the bosozoku showed up somewhere, usually a few police cars arrived and just circled helplessly behind the bosozoku. The Bosozoku were just making fun of the police and the helplessness of the police.

The reason is simply that bosozoku are no longer in trend and the actors are middle aged and not in schools or that period. Probably like kogyaru - the boom was in the 90s, then it declined. Today, maybe someone is still doing it, but not in the same quantity as 20+ years ago.

And that they charged 53 individuals? Get that number down to absolute numbers. It's like peeing in the sea.

The police are merely taking credit for what is not theirs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would let them if they also do something useful, for example collecting all those disgusting thrown away bottles, bento bags and other garbage, at the road’s sides they make their big noise on. Clean environment for all and for them a few minutes of noisy biker’s party as a little respectful thank you. That’s how to pragmatically do that, with a win-win effect and without criminalizing them more than necessary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These idiots use to ride in the hills behind Kobe but then they woke up the big Yak boss in Ashiya one night and he said yamare. Next day no more riding in the hills in Kobe and have been none since. They still do occasionally show up in Sannomiya and other locations but 1/10 of what it use to be.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If their cr@ppy little bikes are illegal just confiscate them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites