The Vintage Japanese “OK” Hand Logo Explained

Few things in life are cooler than vintage racing liveries. The colors, the typefaces, and the long-extinct corporate logos (of often just-as-extinct corporations) capture a moment in time that can never be replicated again. Add to that the rawness of the machines they decorated and the sheer amount of guts it took to hurl a metal box with zero modern safety furnishings around a track, just to satisfy the ridiculously primal need to beat the other guy, and, well, it’s stirring.

And if you look back at photos of Japanese racers from the glory days of Fuji and Suzuka, you’ll notice a stylized, pinkish-red hand, forefinger and thumb making a perfect circle — the internationally recognizable “OK” gesture. But what does it mean?

It was the logo for the Okamoto Rubber Manufacturing Company, which was and still is Japan’s largest manufacturer of condoms. Okamoto knew its market well, and realized that the only thing young males love more than cars and motor racing is sex.

Of course, young men don’t like being preached to, hence some versions of the logo accompanied by the words “Safety Drive,” an inside joke encouraging them to drive safely both on the track and, um, off the track too. And when you look at it that way, the hand symbol takes on a whole new meaning.

Though it’s most closely associated with the hakosuka Skyline GT-R, nearly every marque that competed in Japan’s varied and prolific touring car races carried an Okamoto decal at one point or another.

Mazda first used it on their Capella RX-2s.

When the Savanna RX-3 debuted it became Mazda’s warhorse of choice and carried on the logo proudly.

Even this Fujimi plastic model kit had the decal on it. Did any AMT or Ertl kit ever rock a condom logo?

Here it is on a Toyota Celica 1600GT.

The renowned Fairlady 240ZG also rocked it.

Even this March BMW 73S wore it.

Here it is on a TE27 Corolla Levin, along with more Skylines and Fairlady Zs.

Okamoto is also a leading supplier of interior materials for the Japanese auto and motorbike industry, the majority of its products being foam filler for seats and padding. Today, even though the motorsport link hasn’t been used in decades, some Okamoto products still display a little OK symbol as a discreet nod to the past.

The real Okamoto decals have been out of production for many years, but we still wanted one so we couldn’t resist printing our own. If you notice, the current hand logo has three fingers showing, while the classic ones have two. Obviously we had to go with the latter. Plus, as far as sexually suggestive automotive-themed decals go, it outclasses the Shocker by a million.

The Okamoto tribute decals are now available in the JNC shop. View a gallery of Okamoto-decorated cars in the gallery below.

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23 Responses to The Vintage Japanese “OK” Hand Logo Explained

  1. kevin lee said:

    gonna be great addition to the car!

  2. Alan T. said:

    You may have missed the point that ‘Okamoto Riken Gomu’ were [i]race / event[/i] sponsors rather than private sponsors on individual race cars. That’s why you would have seen [i]all[/i] of the cars in certain races and meetings carrying the ORG ‘OK’ stickers, rather than just some of them. It was an obligation rather than a choice.

    Small correction: That “Yanagida Z” is actually not Yanagida san and one of his cars at all. It is in fact Kazuyoshi HOSHINO in his Nissan ‘works’ SCCN-entered 240ZG ( 240ZR ), race no.23 of course, at the Fuji 300km race on the 18th March 1973, which was the first round of the 1973 Grand Champion Series. The car was entered in the main race of the day, and came in fifth overall – behind two Lolas, a Chevron and an Isuzu sports racer. Haruhito YANAGIDA [i]was[/i] in the race ( in his famous red / white / blue liveried 240ZR ), but was unclassified after a fraught run.

  3. ewokracing said:

    Here I was thinking I’d have to sit down and get a designer to whip me up some decals for the racing wagon when it’s done, and instead JNC has come through with the goods.

    Nice work!

  4. Care to possibly trade some stickers?

  5. lowlifestyle said:

    Dammit, I just placed an order yesterday, now I need these. Lol.

  6. Haha – i’ve allways wondered whick kind of racing company stands behind this logo, and now i read it’s a condom manufacturer.. hahaha – great :D

    Now i definitly need to get a set of these for my Z :)

    Thanks for the history lesson!

  7. Lincoln Stax said:

    What is in the left hand corner of those original Okamoto stickers? It looks like it’s on all those race cars, but I just can’t make it out.

  8. Brownie said:

    is the Mitsubishi decal because its held at Fuji Speedway in which they own back then?

  9. Jeff Koch said:

    “Where the rubber meets the road” takes on a whole new meaning.

  10. Jeff Koch said:

    Also, remember what Negativland taught us: Copyright Infringement is Your Best Entertainment Value.

  11. James Elterman said:

    Thanks for this great article. I especially love the photos. Are there any good internet repositories for photos of J-tin racing? Seeing the old liveries is great.

  12. Tj said:

    Awesome looking sticker. Will be getting some for the Zed.

    All I’ll need now is a box of Japanese Nostalgic Frangers to place suggestively on the lid of an open glovebox :D

  13. Tyler said:

    Oh this is great. I predict the best selling aside from the classic inkan!

    How about offering a sticker pack with one of each?

  14. Kevin Truong said:

    Nice!

  15. Stinkyturbo said:

    What does the “Tc” sticker mean?

  16. Mike L. said:

    Ordered. Will go on my Fairlady. How bout a red hand with white background for a future version?

  17. Matty M said:

    That is hilarious! Damn you for making me love those old hakos and their fantastic liveries!

Comments are closed.