Unique JDM

What is a Tsurikawa?

What Exactly is a Tsurikawa handle? Where is the origin? And why do people decorate their cars with them? Let’s find out.

Whether you’ve watched YouTube videos or visited a live JDM meeting you almost certainly have seen these weird-looking circles or triangles hanging off the back of the car or inside the interior. These are called Tsurikawa’s, and there is quite a fascinating history behind them.

What is a Tsurikawa?

If you translate the word Tsurikawa you get two meanings, Tsuri – meaning hang, and Kawa – meaning leather. Tsurikawas were objects that usually were suspended that could help standing passengers on trains, subways, and buses keep their balance while the vehicle was in motion. Tsurikawas are also commonly known as “tsuriwa” meaning “hangring”.

Tsurikawas come in many different shapes, colors, and materials. Up until the mid-50s, the most common Tsurikawas were made of a leather strap together with a circle or triangle made out of plastic. Today most Tsurikawas come in the form of a circle and have different colors depending on special or priority seats.


So how did some handles from some train or bus in Japan make it all the way onto a car? Well, we’ve got the Bosozukus to thank for that. The Bosozukas was a motorbike gang that first appeared sometime during the late 50s. These bikers usually consisted of youngsters below the age of 20, The Bosozukus usually rode together in large groups, sometimes into the hundreds, and would often break laws and beat up or threaten any bystanders that expressed disapproval of the gangs’ behaviors. By the early 80s, there were over 40,000 confirmed members.

The Bosozukus were easily recognized by their heavily modified bikes, often using prominent body extensions, stickers, and colorful paint. As a way to show their disapproval of the government authorities, these youth gangs often stole Tsurikawas from subway trains and attached them to their bikes. This eventually also caught up to car enthusiasts who also started using these symbols as a way of decoration. Today there are just a few Bosozukus left, the ones left have mostly put the life of crime behind them. But the Tsurikawas remain, and today there is a large variety that you can purchase (without having to steal from a train).


A Tsurikawa is a handle found on trains and buses and is used by passengers to keep their balance while the vehicle is in motion. In the 50s a Japanese bike gang known as the Bosozukas started stealing Tsurikawas and decorated their bikes with them as a sign of disrespect towards the authorities. Eventually, car enthusiasts caught on and also used them for decoration. Tsurikawas are still used for decoration today, although stealing is no longer necessary since there are many online stores selling them.

E. Lindgren

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