There’s something to be said about the musicality—or lack-there-of—of a motorcycle engine and exhaust note. From the high-pitched whine of a Japanese sportbike to the throaty rumble of a Harley’s v-twin, every bike has a sound; every bike has a music. A Japanese motorcycle subculture is taking this “motorcycle music” thing to the next level. Musicians, to your throttles! Forget the cat calls—this is the era of the cutting calls.
Japan is the land of all things weird. The number of unusual subcultures that thrive in the Land of the Rising Sun is staggering. One of the most recent emerging trends on the Japanese Bosozoku motorcycle scene is what is referred to as “cutting calls”.
What’s a cutting call you will ask? The idea is simple: the “caller” twists and releases the throttle of his bike at a certain pace, revving the engine and creating a sort of exhaust “beatbox”. The name comes from the beat that’s created by pulling and cutting the throttle repeatedly. While this may sound like a silly or pointless activity, the partakers take it seriously and have gone as far as to create cutting calls competitions.
A short documentary by Broadly follows one of these callers, Shino Hashimoto, the first woman to enter a 400cc cutting call competition, in her preparation for the “Q-1” event. What we discover in this 20-minute short is a world where customized bikes known as Bosozokus reign king with their sky-high banana seats and funky liveries. A world where revving your engine doesn’t make you sound like a douche, but rather like a superstar. The phenomenon is both extremely annoying and absolutely fascinating.
Cutting calls haven’t been documented outside of Japan—this subculture hasn’t left the island yet, which makes it difficult to comprehend and position on a timeline. Whether it will make its way West as kawaii and anime did remains to be seen. One thing is sure, the Japanese don’t lack creativity when it comes to inventing new movements. Who knows, there could be a new trend in the making next time you hear some rev their engine. Does anybody care to try beatboxing with their Harley and share the video?