Itasha (痛車) is a term for cars that have been decorated with decals of moe female characters from anime, manga and visual novels. These cars are popular among otakus and can be seen in places such as Akihabara and Nipponbashi.
Just as the kanji has stated, Itasha literally means "Painful Car". I've heard of two reasons behind the naming: One is that "pain" is used as in "painfully embarrassing" (or something similar), the other one being a pun for Italian car (イタ車) of same pronounciation. (via Danny Choo and Wikipedia)
Let's have a look at various kinds of Itasha out there~
A Nanoha (from anime Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's) Itasha spotted somewhere in Akihabara par moi 3 months ago. I wonder whether it's the same car as the one featured on Japan Times Online?
A Shana Itasha in a Chevrolet car show in Singapore, via DarkMirage
Not a real Itasha, but a 1/24 scale plamodel of Suzumiya Haruhi Mazda FD3S RX-7 from Aoshima. Image from Hobby Blog via DarkMirage
Popular, moe and little Primula from eroge and anime Shuffle!
Lelouch and C.C. from anime Code Geass. Is Lelouch moe too? o_o
Bulky cars can be Itasha too! Fate Testarossa from Nanoha A's is win~ (laughs)
Nagisa from visual novel and anime Clannad. Having nice anime/visual novel girls on your seat surely look nice, but I don't think I really want to sit on them... ^^;;
Pimp My Ride otaku version?
Moe girl treatment doesn't apply to cars only!
This sleek-looking motorbike got the moe girl decal treatment too. Such vehicles are called Itansha (痛単車).
Normal bikes can get them too! Those are called Itachari (痛チャリ), but this one is kinda forcing itself to be one... ^^;;
These are the more "normal" Itachari found in Akihabara. The Hare Hare Yukai album picture is seen on this front wheel.
The character here is Sumomo Akihime from eroge Nanatsuiro Drops, artwork by Noizi Ito
They surely are interesting to look at, but I'm not too sure whther I want to convert mine into one. ^^;; If you have the money and resources, would you "pimp" your ride into an Itasha?
More pictures of Itasha via Danny Choo, Yoshimu, and Otasuke.