Itasha means concretely cars on whose body characters of anime or game, mainly lovely girls, are painted. And “Ita” means “painful”. In Japan people and things which are shameful is called often “Itai(painful)”. “Sha” means car. So Itasha means painful cars. But it isn’t a slanderous word. Rather owners and Otaku is willing to call them Itasha, because they admit it as their culture. And they are called sometimes also Moesha. But Itasha is more generall than Moesha.
Origin of Itasha seems actually gang of hot-rodders. Originally they who like showy design remodeled their cars and painted various pattern on their cars. And those days many manga whose subject are gang of hot-rodders were popular. “Shounan Bakusouzoku“, “BE-BOP-HIGHSCHOOL“, “Hot Road” and so on. So they painted the characters on their car.
But there were some of them who like better design than active as gang. Besides, there were people who bought a car and want to attract attention but gang is fearful. Such people considered the painted cars to be a fashion and were easily influenced by trends of the times.
From 2000 Otaku culture is getting popular. However the other side there were also Moesha from 1990’s. Moesha’s owner is, of cause, Otaku. They decorated mainly the inside of their cars by animecharacter’s goods and dolls.
From 2000, gang’s culture and Otaku culture were united to the culture of Itasha.
From 2005 the hot boom of Itasha is related strongly to public institution’s advertisement. They uses for advertisement bus, car, and train whose whole body are lapped by posters.
Moreover, what made Itasha boom was video game “Forza 2” of Xbox. In the game player can paint his cars and give-and-take their cars among players. Many videos in which these cars are running are uploaded in youtube or nico nico douga. So they were more and more getting popular.
Spread of Itasha community
3, 26, 2008 “Ita-G(Itasha Graphics)” was first issued.
12, 25, 2008 “Itasha.net” was opened. It is a comprehensive information site for Itasha.
Itasha appears often in Akiba and some events like a Comic Market. Moehaku is the largest event for Itasha in Japan.