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Prosthesis manufacturers offer ex-yakuza members’ best chance at normal life

By Preston Phro

Yakuza. The word conjures up a host of images from noble anti-hero to vicious thugs to shrewd businessmen manipulating Japan’s financial institutions. While it may be hard to separate fact from fiction with these underworld gangs, one image – that of the sacrificed finger – is utterly real.

In fact, ex-yakuza members can have trouble fitting into normal society due to their missing digits. Fortunately for rehabilitated citizens, there are a few companies that can give them new fingers.

Usually when people think about silicon and body parts, the first image to spring to mind is that of, um, artificially endowed women. But it turns out that silicon is used in a wide range of prostheses, and a skilled technician can make nearly any body part you need from ears to feet to, you guessed it, fingers. Yukako Fushima, a technician at Osaka’s Kawamura Gishi, is far more than just “skilled.”

Having helped over 150 ex-yakuza members, Fukushima recently received an award from the Osaka police for her efforts in rehabilitating members of Japan’s underworld. Using carefully molded silicon, the technician applies between 12 to 13 colors, creating new digits that look stunningly real. But that’s not the end of her work.

While Fukushima is in the business of making prostheses, she says her hope is that these ex-yakuza are able to develop relationships where they can reveal their true history. “All I can do is repair what is visible. But the ideal is that people not just hide their fingers, but develop relationships with others who will accept them when they say, ‘You know, in the past…’” It seems that her hopes are generally coming true, as she’s received numerous visitors and letters of thanks expressing gratitude for help transitioning to a normal life.

Still, there’s no denying the importance of “passing,” as illustrated by one of the sweetest comments we’ve ever heard. “People have told me, ‘I was finally able to hold hands with my child.’ Your hand is right at a child’s eye level, so your pinky finger really sticks out, you know.”

Fortunately for people looking to get out of Japan’s underworld, Fukushima isn’t the only one making these hyper-realistic silicon fingers. The Tokyo company Aiwa Gishi has made prosthetic fingers for over 300 ex-yakuza members, though, like Fukushima, this is hardly the bulk of their clients. Both companies also serve people who may have lost digits in accidents or who were born without them. As one technician at Aiwa Gishi pointed out, not having a finger can get you associated with the yakuza – even if you’ve couldn’t so much as name the local boss.

While it is certainly admirable to see so many people working hard to get their lives back on track, the cost cannot be underestimated. According to one news report about Aiwa Gishi, a single finger can put you back around 200,000 yen. The fingers are made by taking a mold of the finger left on the other hand and then painted and modified to look as realistic as possible. It seems that the fingers don’t merely look real – they’re also semi-functional! Customers are able to type – or even play the piano!

You might be wondering why so many of these ex-yakuza members are missing fingers. It seems that once you join, you’re almost always in for life. But while some criminal gangs won’t let you out with your life (the yakuza are not quite so strict), they will demand your finger. Called yubitsume, the finger-cutting ritual can serve as punishment, though it is demanded of members trying to leave the group. So even if you decide that a life of crime really isn’t for you after all, quitting isn’t very easy – and you’ll still be marked forever as a one-time member of Japan’s underworld.

Which, as you can imagine, makes the services provided by Kawamura Gishi and Aiwa Gishi all the more important. Many companies, even pachinko parlors, won’t hire people with missing fingers since they may have yakuza ties, so the prostheses are necessary to help ex-members find jobs.

So, for those of you out there trapped in the Japanese underworld, here’s your chance to get out! We just hope you saved enough money for the new pinky.

Sources: Naver Matome, YouTube, Excite, Ameba, Sankei News, Aiwa Gishi

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Man Robs Girlfriend So He Can Buy Her Presents -- Transmitting Information Via the Sense of Touch -- Yakuza member charged with trespassing after chasing boss’s cat

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The word 'noble' should never be used when describing yakuza.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Some facts here differ from the Kyodo News story that ran last spring in The Japan Times, including prosthetic maker Yukako's name:


Sadly, the thrust of the headline is always the same.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

just a consequence of a bad life decision. They should be forced to live with it

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I'm sure this can't be all good...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Screw the Yakuza, normal life no thanks, no pity for these thugs.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Everyone deserves a 2nd chance in my book.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

They deserve a second chance and lets not categorise them as bad people, give them a break and accept them if they are committed to change.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Everyone deserves a 2nd chance in my book.

Yeh, but its scary to think about what some of these guys might do with that 2nd chance...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

ooops! quote " Yukako Fushima" Yukako is now "While Fukushima is in the business" cay spot the error?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry, no second chances, work construction or sweep floors.... stealing, extortion, drug, sex and guns isn't a resume for a new life. They lost their fingers for being stupid live with it.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Yeh, but its scary to think about what some of these guys might do with that 2nd chance...

How about carpentry?The firm that we've had build everything from an extra room to a BBQ space is composed of about 1/3 ex-yakuza and ex-bosouzoku. Two haven't pinky fingers on one hand, one still has a 'punch perma'...however, these guys realize that they made it out, and are courteous and good workers. I'd recommend them to anyone.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I used to work with a guy with a finger prosthesis in the restaurant. His driving was wild but he seemed to be an okay restaurant manager.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I worked with someone who lost most of their pinkie in an industrial accident. Might be something for him to buy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Many youngsters from poor families can;t go to Sr. HS and join yakuza groups to get some kind of jobs. These chimpiras who have no place and work for yakuzas' construction groups are the ones who get their little fingers shpped off with yubikiri ceremony. Then they can't get jobs and any other yakuza groups do not get them. This surgery enable to let them go into normal life for rehabilitation. Are there any organization that help rehabilitation of former yakuzas? When someone does not have his little finger, people assume he is no good to be in their business. Are there any organization which help children from poor families in Japan? These little fingerless people broke yakuza codes, not necessarily committed crime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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