What is a Tsurikawa? – The Iconic JDM Car Accessory Explained

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What is a Tsurikawa? – The Iconic JDM Car Accessory Explained

Exploring the Tsurikawa: From Japanese Trains to Global Car Culture

Have you ever seen a car with a looped handle hanging from its rear bumper and wondered what it was? Meet the tsurikawa, a symbol of rebellion and style in Japanese car culture. Originally serving a practical purpose in public transportation, tsurikawas have evolved into a trendy accessory in the automotive world. In this post, we’ll explore the history, cultural significance, and modern adaptations of the tsurikawa.

The Origins of Tsurikawa

Tsurikawa (つり革) translates to "hang" (tsuri) and "leather" (kawa) in Japanese. These handles were initially designed for standing passengers to hold onto for stability while traveling in buses and trains. Made from durable materials such as leather or synthetic substitutes, these rings ensured safety and comfort during commutes.

Tsurikawa in Japanese Car Culture

The adoption of tsurikawas into car culture began with a rebellious twist. Young Japanese individuals, particularly those involved in the Bosozoku (rebellious biker gangs), would steal these handles from trains and buses and attach them to their cars as a symbol of defiance against societal norms. Over time, this act of rebellion turned into a widespread trend among car enthusiasts.

How Tsurikawas are Used Today

Today, tsurikawas are popular worldwide among various car communities, transcending their original cultural context. They are no longer just a sign of rebellion but also a fashion statement and a nod to automotive history. Here are some common uses:

  • Decorative Purposes: Many car owners hang tsurikawas from bumpers or interiors as a style accessory.
  • Performance Signifier: In some circles, a tsurikawa might indicate the car’s enhanced performance capabilities or the owner’s dedication to car modification.
  • Community and Identity: They often signify membership or affinity with particular groups within the car culture.

The Evolution of Tsurikawa Styles

The design and material of tsurikawas have evolved. From the traditional round shape, you can now find them in various forms and colors, featuring everything from neon colors to custom engravings. The materials have also expanded from leather to include more durable and weather-resistant synthetics.


The tsurikawa is more than just a piece of decoration; it is a piece of Japanese cultural history that has found a new life in the global car community. Whether as a symbol of rebellion, a fashion statement, or a way to express one’s identity, the tsurikawa continues to hang on in the world of car enthusiasts.


Q1: Is it legal to have a tsurikawa on your car? A1: The legality of hanging a tsurikawa can vary by region and local traffic laws. It's important to check local regulations to ensure compliance.

Q2: Where can I buy a tsurikawa? A2: Tsurikawas are available at JDM Performance tsurikawa collection.