10 CRAZY Things You Didn't Know About The YAKUZA! | Japan Blog 2022
Did you know that the Yakuza still exists till this day?!
That's right - they are still functional in Japan today! We will jump into this so stay tuned!
1. Yakuza are called Boryokudan by the police and media in Japan
Boryokudan in Japanese means Violence groups, in Japanese
Japan is actually home to one of the largest mafia/ crime organizations in the world; they hold over 86,000 members till this day.
2. Yakuza could have originated from SAMURAI
A theory is told about Samurai becoming Yakuza during the Edo era. Ronin: which were Samurai that were once a part of a legion disband from their government officiation would become solo or Ronin Samurai. These groups of warriors would then create the organization known as the Yakuza, in order to feed themselves and maintain their lively hood.
3. The Police accept Yakuza in society in Japan
In Japan, Yakuza members were often accepted as a part of society (something the police would have to live with). For years, Japan law enforcement have accepted the Yakuza in daily organizations and involvements in Japan affairs. Some Yakuza even hold high government positions or connections in political and business affairs. This is because Yakuza in Japan was widely accepted in society, especially during the 80's. Yakuza was accepted also because of their code of honor (similar to Samurai) and disciplined organization. The police believed it was better to have organized crime than less organized crime.
4. Yakuza are not about violence as much as they are about money.
The Yakuza are an organized crime unity. The Yakuza nowadays are assembled of outcasts in Japanese society and Korean-Japanese who were discriminated and still are discriminated in parts of Japan. The Yakuza aims to create revenue, and to uphold a large hand in business and politics. The Yakuza to this day has it's hand in everything from drug racketeering to port controls and entertainment (such as pro wrestling or track bike racing). The main goal and objective of the Yakuza is to create wealth as an organization.
5. Yakuza tattoos mean more than you think.
In Japanese culture, it is frowned upon and extremely banned in some places to have open showing tattoos. This is because of tattoos association with Yakuza and violence. Though in Yakuza culture, the tattoos on a members body can mean their whole life story. The tattoos on a members body can resemble their life or something that is very important to their life. The tattoos on Yakuza in my opinion seems to be more of a representation of their individualism in a society and culture of Japan which is about being unified and collective. The Yakuza don't just get normal tattoos, they use a special technique which is very painful, using one poke of a needle at a time; this is called Irezumi. This process sends a strong message of dedication to the world ahead which is the Yakuza life.
6. The largest population of Yakuza is in Kobe! Where the beef is from.
Kobe is one of the best places to get a Wagyu, but it also happens to be the area of the largest population of Yakuza. The population of Yakuza in Kobe are comprised of a group called the Sumiyoshi-kai (20,000 members from Osaka) and the group called the Inagawa-kai (15,000 members originating from Tokyo and Yokohama). This doesn't mean that Kobe, Japan isn't a safe place because it totally is. The Yakuza in Japan keep to themselves for the most part and do not like starting big uproar for obvious reasons of risking exposure. Though the Yakuza deals in deep crime, including the trafficking of humans, it does not make noise compared to classical representation of gang violence in America for example.
7. Honor is still the main code for Yakuza.
Just because the Yakuza is a crime organization does not mean that they are unruly and boast their strength. There is a specific, deep and long written form of code that every great Yakuza must keep in line in order to create and upkeep the image. The Yakuza is a crime society based upon the old Edo era and ancient Japanese morals, and one could even say that they are more devout and dedicated to what they do than some "normal" everyday Japanese nationals.
8. The Yakuza is the master of Blackmail.
Though the Yakuza does make money through multiple illegal streams, they are masters of corporate blackmail. The Yakuza buys shares in a publicly traded company and uses the advantages of sitting on the board meetings and getting crucial and valuable information from the company to threaten and leverage a large company to give them money to keep the disclosed annual revenue and various other corporate info from the public or law. This is extremely useful for the Yakuza because it is one of the ways of creating large amounts of wealth without having to harm, exchange goods, or use large amounts of members.
9. There is a written test to join the Yakuza.
Yes, there is an actual test to see if you are eligible to join the Yakuza. This test is 12 pages long and is used by the Yakuza to determine whether or not a person is fit to be in the organization but more-so as a way to filter out the people who may be detrimental to the operation. Something like this is similar to a job interview online or an application; though there probably is more at stake here. The number one thing in the Yakuza is loyalty and abiding by the code; if you can't pass the test, well it looks like you aren't able to do these things just yet (try again next time).
10. Yes, your finger will be cut off if you dishonor the Yakuza.
Like we all probably know from culture and movies, the Yakuza does not play around. If a member does not behave, they are forced to cut off their own finger! This is known as Yubitsume (amputation of the little finger): the Yakuza will make offenders cut off their pinky if they make a mistake worthy of getting the attention of a higher up or boss. You may even be forced to cut off another pinky if you are continually insubordinate. This practice comes from long ago when Samurai used swords to defend themselves. By cutting off the pinky, you will not be able to use your sword in combat, which puts more reliance on Yakuza to protect you. I guess you better stay in line if you are in the Yakuza, wouldn't want to be the guy with 9 fingers, or even 8.
Japan is an amazing place beyond all of the organized crime and small deviations. You will love going to Japan when there; this article is to bring you guys insight on the darker and more cornered parts of Japan and I wish to enlighten everyone on Japan's amazing culture.
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