Life is what happens when you are making other plans~ John Lennon
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind~Gandhi
The time is always right to do what is right~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Japanese Yakuza

Also known as gokudo, Yakuza are criminal gangs out of Japan. The Japanese police call them boryokudan (violence group), while the Yakuza call themselves ninkyo dantai (chivalrous organization). They are known for their strict code of conduct

Yubitsume, the cutting of one's finger, is how you pay the price for doing something wrong. 1st offence is cutting off the tip of your little finger and it is given to your boss. Also many Yakuza members have full body tattoos. In Japan, they are known as irezumi, and it's done the old fashioned way, called 'hand poking' by the Japanese. By using a non electric needle, basically using a sharpened needle of steel or bamboo and inserting the ink that way. It can take years to complete and also be very painful. When yakuza members plays cards or games, they usually strip to the waist to display their full body tattoos to each other. But when out in public, they wear long sleeved shirts with high collars to conceal the tattoos as many establishments in Japan bar yakuza from coming in if they see the tattoos. When new members join, they are required to remove their pants to reveal any lower body tattoos if any.

In Japan, there are 3 very large Yakuza groups.
-Sumiyoshi- Kai

Most Yakuza run businesses have a wooden board on the front door, to display name and emblem. Members often wear sunglasses and colorful suits so that their profession can immediately be recognized by civilians (katagi). They even walk differently. Civilians walk with an unassuming gait, where as yakuza walk with a cocky self assured strut. Also yakuza can flash their tattoos if needed. The Yakuza also helps out in emergency situations if the need arises. 

Sex Trafficking
This sign is quite a common sight in Tokyo. It's usually seen outside bars basically saying that if you have tattoos that look like this, you're prohibited to enter. 

Yakuza gangster showing off full body tattoos
United States
The Yakuza is also present in the US. They're mostly relegated to Hawaii, where the Japanese population is higher than most places. But they can also be found in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle,  Las Vegas, Arizona, Virginia, Chicago and New York City. The Yakuza use Hawaii as a way station between Japan and the US, smuggling crystal meth and firearms back to Japan. They can blend in to the island because a good deal of the Hawaiin residents are of full or partial Japanese descent and because of the high amount of Asian tourists who visit the island regularly. 

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