A glitzy semi truck that Bunta Sugawara dazzled moviegoers with in the 1970s is being prepared for the open road again here as a tribute to the late actor.
Sugawara, who died at the age of 81 in November, drove the artfully decorated semi, called “Ichibanboshi” (the first star of evening), as Momojiro Hoshi, the lead character in the popular “Torakku Yaro” (Truck guys) film series.
Junichi Tajima, 66, who heads the national association of art trucks, purchased the iconic vehicle and asked Masami Ikoma, a repairman in Kusatsu, to fix its flashing lights.
Ikoma, 41, said he was “honored to become involved in the repair of the famed semi.”
Ikoma recalled that he was enamored of the “Torraku Yaro” series when he was a junior high school student and later came to lead the Kashokai, a group of art truck enthusiasts.
Tajima, 66, a resident of Honjo, Saitama Prefecture, described the Ichibanboshi vehicle as “synonymous with Sugawara.”
“I wanted to see him driving the truck again,” he said.
After the restoration, the semi is scheduled to be rolled out at a memorial event for the actor at the riverbed of Tonegawa river in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, on Dec. 31.
Sugawara, praised for his role in the “Torakku Yaro” series and the gritty realism he brought to yakuza characters he portrayed in films, as well as his commitment to social issues, died on Nov. 28 of liver cancer.