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Yakuza

Page history last edited by Caroline Dougherty 13 years, 7 months ago

 

 

 

YAKUZA

 

 

 

 

Origins

 

Name

 

    Ya - 9, Ku - 8, Sa - 3 = 20, a losing hand in the Japanese game hana-fudu, literally the "Bad hand of society," but more figuratively,

        "Those which have no place in society." Includes many outsiders among its ranks.

 

 

Kabuki-Mono vs. Machi-Yakko

 

    Kabuki-Mono (crazed ones) were ronin who, as far back as 1612, were plundering villages in organized bands.

- considered to be the origin of modern yakuza

 

    Machi-Yakko (city servants) are considered the origin of the yakuza by the yakuza themselves

        - protected villagers from the Kabuki-Mono

 

    Regardless, modern yakuza appeared in the middle of the 17th-century, in two groups:

 

        - bakuto (gamblers)

        - tekiya (street vendors) sold illegal products

 

Rise of the Guerentai

 

    Guerantai (hoodlums) came into existence after WWII, when there was a need for black-market goods

        - modelled themselves after Al Capone and the gangsters of the 1930s, replaced swords for guns, etc.

 

 

Characteristics

 

Slang

 

    Yakuza are known to speak a unique form of Japanese slang, complete with grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary

        Website about Yakuza slang

 

Tattoos

    Yakuza often tattoo all areas of their body that can be hidden under clothing as a rite of passage. These ornate tattoos have become quite

        recognizable in Japanese society.

 

    

 

 

 

Clothing

 

    Yakuza wear clothing reminiscent of American gangsters of the 1920's and 1930's

 

 

 

 

Structure

 

    Oyabun-Kobun Relationship

        Father-son relationship. The kobun must obey and be loyal to the oyabun; likewise, the oyabun will protect the kobun.

            "If your boss says the passing crow is white, then you must agree."

 

    Hierarchy

        I. Kumicho (supreme boss)

            A. Saiko komon (senior advisor)

            B. So-honbucho (headquarters chief)

            C. Wakagashira (number two man; regional boss)

                1. Fuku-honbucho (responsible for several gangs)

                2. Shateigashira (lesser regional boss)

                   a. Shateigashira-hosa (assistant)

                   b. Shatei ("younger brother")

                   c. Wakashu (junior assistant)

 

 

Traditions

 

    Initiation Ceremony

        "A successful candidate for admission into the Mafia must participate in a ceremony where his trigger finger is pricked and the blood smeared on the picture of a saint, which is then set on fire and must burn in the initiate's hands as he swears his loyalty to the family.  In the yakuza initiation ceremony, the blood is symbolized by sake (rice wine).  The oyabun and the initiate sit face-to-face as their sake is prepared by azukarinin (guarantors).  The sake is mixed with salt and fish scales, then carefully poured into cups.  The oyabun's cup is filled to the brim, befitting his status; the initiate gets much less.  They drink a bit, then exchange cups, and each drinks from the other's cup.  The kobun has then sealed his commitment to the family.  From that moment on, even the kobun's wife and children must take a backseat to his obligations to his yakuza family."

 

    Yubizume

        When a yakuza displeases a boss, the last joint of his little finger is amputated.

            - Mostly a symbolic gesture, with roots in practicality

 

 

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References

 

www.crimelibrary.com

www.virtualginza.com

www.jingai.com

Image: Yakuza group

Image: Yakuza man showing tattoos

Image: Anti-Yakuza sign

Image: Movie rendition of two Yakuza

 


 See also:  The Yakuza


 

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