SUICHUUKA: Those weird shift knobs from Japan

December 5, 2008 12:30 am Published by

Bubble shifters, dildo knobs, call them what you will, these unusual shift knobs from Japan are one of those souvenirs that everyone who visits a Super Autobacs on their compulsory trip to Japan ends up buying. To find the most awesome of models though, you really need to visit a truck parts shop.

In case you were wondering, the traditional name for them is “suichuuka”.

“Sui” means “water”.

“Chuu” means “inside”.

“Ka” means “flower”.

The name comes from the original design from over thirty years ago, where a small bunch of dried flowers were cast inside a resin shift knob. They’re most popular amongst truck drivers, with some models exceeding 30cm in length.

The original flower design is still available brand-new in a number of sizes, along with a multitude of bubble, glitter, diamond-cut and multicolour designs. Luckily, most of the thread sizes are common to the normal Nissan and Toyota shifter diameter and pitch, but if you can’t find one in your size, thread adapters are easily available.

Most drifters in Japan avoid using them despite their looks, as the greater leverage from the extra length of the knob increases the risk of forcing a shift, increasing the risk of breaking a gearbox. Drivers who like the style though, will just learn to drive around it.

“They’re so cool! I couldn’t drive with anything else.” said one driver with a suichuuka I spoke to. It turned out that his gearbox wasn’t in the best of condition, so he used the extra leverage to make it easier to find gears. That was his excuse, at least.


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This post was written by Alexi