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Cherry blossoms also bring out the yakuza

35 Comments

Yakuza are people too, and being Japanese, they have the same affinity for seasonal revelry as do any other citizen. But when they converge on public places for drinking and carousing, notes the subculture magazine Jitsuwa Bunka Taboo (June), a certain decorum is called for -- but not necessarily followed.

Still, gang members might be advised by the local police to do whatever they can to "conceal their identity."

"So rather than wearing flashy suits or jerseys, we'll get our people to put on ordinary casual clothes like blue jeans and sweaters so as to look respectable," relates a lieutenant from a gang based in northern Kanto. "At first we were thinking, 'Dressed like this, nobody's going to recognize us,' but the more we drank, the rowdier we got, and eventually we'd break out in moody yakuza songs sung by the late Ken Takakura, like 'Karajishi Botan' or 'Abashiri Bangaichi,' which we'd sing 'til tears ran down our cheeks."

In efforts to keep down the noise, portable karaoke devices are usually banned from public parks in cities. But in rural areas, they are often brought along for hanami parties, and participants like to break out in song.

"When other people nearby are also accompanied by a karaoke machine, usually it's not a problem, unless they are sitting too close to each other, and their voices get too loud," says an assistant to the boss of a gang based in Kansai. "If the 'oyabun' (boss) takes over the mike and sings a raunchy song, or does a lousy job of impersonating a singer, then they might jeer or try to to provoke us. This happens a lot with construction workers and similar types. They know that we yakuza aren't allowed to go after them, so they provoke us intentionally, and repeatedly, just to get us riled"

In such cases, it's not unheard of for yakuza to wait until the next day to settle a score.

Sometimes a gang boss will invite respectable members of society to join the party, so he'll dispatch younger gang members in advance to stake out a suitably spacious area. On these occasions, securing more space can involve negotiations with whoever has grabbed the adjacent spot.

"Naturally we won't pay them off in cash, but we might give them some beer or sake, so that the negotiations go smoothly," says the lieutenant of a gang with gambling connections based in the greater Nagoya area. "But once we found ourselves next to a group of middle-aged women. We plied them with confections in the hope they'd let us have a bit of their space, and asked politely, but..."

Instead, the women took offense and showered the yakuza with verbal abuse, such as "You've got no manners!" They kept up their verbal assault until one of the younger gang members lost his patience and snarled, "Hey bitch, are you tired of livin?!" One woman's reaction was to pull out her cell phone and hastily dial 110, summoning the police. Hearing her, the yakuza to a man promptly scooped up their drinks and snacks and beat a hasty retreat.

Prickly encounters with ordinary citizens notwithstanding, imagine how the tension gets ratcheted up when a gang finds itself being glared at by members of a rival gang who happen to be seated beneath an adjacent tree.

"The younger rank-and-file members didn't recognize each other and right away the atmosphere got pretty tense," a gang member in Kansai recalls. "It was up to the senior members, who knew one another personally, to keep their troops in line."

Once upon a time, he relates, a dangerous situation had developed when rumors had been circulating that one of the two gangs was in the process of taking over its smaller rival. All it took to turn that year's hanami party into a melee was the tipping over a cup of beer, which set the younger members flying off at the handle.

Jitsuwa Bunka Taboo also notes that cherry-blossom viewing had once been a source of yakuza revenues as in the past, gang-affiliated peddlers called "tekiya" often parked their light trucks close to temples, shrines and other blossom-viewing areas, from which they dispensed drinks and snacks such as "takoyaki" (grilled octopus balls) to the crowds. But those days are mostly gone as the police are under orders to drive them away.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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Idiots.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As with any group, there are Yakuza who are rude, and those who are polite in public. Those I've met on the beach in the summer have been polite and accommodating, some with happy families.

10 ( +10 / -1 )

Right-wing are great!

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Yakuza absolutely suck, but they're obviously better than gangs in other countries. In other countries, the old woman would have received a beat-down right there, and if it was America, the opposing gangs sitting next to each other probably would have had a shoot out.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Strangerland

Yes, the Yakuza are lovely people:

"Many yakuza syndicates...forbid...drug trafficking, while some...are heavily involved in it. Some yakuza groups are known to deal extensively in human trafficking...(in) The Philippines...Yakuza trick girls...into becoming prostitutes and strippers (in Japan).

There is much evidence of yakuza involvement in international crime. There are many tattooed yakuza members imprisoned in various Asian prisons for such crimes as drug trafficking and arms smuggling. In 1997, one verified yakuza member was caught smuggling 4 kilograms (8.82 pounds) of heroin into Canada.

The Yakuza are said to use Hawaii as a midway station between Japan and mainland America, smuggling methamphetamine into the country and smuggling firearms back to Japan."

(source: - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakuza )

The same source does mention the help given by these groups in the earthquakes, plus the avoidance of theft, etc. However, the crimes also shown in the same source cite activities that can hardly be seem as "nicer" than any other crime syndicate out there.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

And that is why I stopped buying yatai food at events. Yakuza just run rampant and the cops lack the man vegetables to actually take them on. The Yaks run this country!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This paints the yaks as a bunch of moronic, childish oafs. can that really be the case if they run crime in Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This paints the yaks as a bunch of moronic, childish oafs. can that really be the case if they run crime in Japan?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, the Yakuza are lovely people:

You apparently didn't read my post. I specifically said:

Yakuza absolutely suck

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@sensei. I agree. I've encountered them at the beach and found them reasonably friendly. The obnoxious one's I've seen were young and at festivals. I haven't seen them do anything bad, just a rough attitude.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Yakuza are people too

No they are not, they are scumbags and everything that is wrong with Japan. There is a reason the US froze all their bank accounts.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

“But once we found ourselves next to a group of middle-aged women. We plied them with confections in the hope they’d let us have a bit of their space, and asked politely, but…”

Instead, the women took offense and showered the yakuza with verbal abuse, such as “You’ve got no manners!”

What a bunch of rude middle-aged women!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I shall publicly diss them on this post... and quietly dream to my self of one day becoming a Samurai!

I know nothing about Yakuaza except for the Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano) movies. I might have played the game on PS2... a while back... And the movie "Moonchild" which was surprisingly violent considering that is starred Gackt. I would love to become a vampire!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

They kept up their verbal assault until one of the younger gang members lost his patience and snarled, “Hey bitch, are you tired of livin?!” One woman’s reaction was to pull out her cell phone and hastily dial 110, summoning the police. Hearing her, the yakuza to a man promptly scooped up their drinks and snacks and beat a hasty retreat.

This is the greatest thing I've read all day. Shine on you magnificent middle-aged woman. For all the (mostly deserved) stick people on JT give Japanese police, it's nice to know that just calling is enough to drive away some gangs.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

You apparently didn't read my post. I specifically said:

You apparently dont understand the sarcasm behind the "lovely people" statement. Reading comprehension helps sometimes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Better than similar organizations in other countries. They protect the poor and the weak. They only pick on the big and the bully

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

They protect the poor and the weak. They only pick on the big and the bully

Someone has been watching too many Takakura Ken movies with tears rolling down their cheeks.

I remember a few years ago sitting next to a guy at the City Hall. He had a carrier bag full of Thai girls passports.

Instead of a strong feeling of utter revulsion all I really hoped and wished for was someone to enlighten me on the troubles these fine gentleman must face when they want to enjoy the simple pleasure of cherry blossom.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I miss the Tekiya and Yatai. Where did they all go?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"we’ll get our people to put on ordinary casual clothes like blue jeans and sweaters so as to look respectable"

I can't see them pulling that off somehow. But it reminds me of a time in the 1980s when there was an outbreak of gang warfare between two rival gangs in Osaka. A family from each gang lived in our apartment building, and there was some concern that there might be some shooting. One evening, a large car was parked outside the building with some very large, ugly looking guys inside, dressed in "casual clothes". Assuming something bad was about to go down, I mentioned it to our landlord who seemed knowledgeable about such things. Don't worry, he said. Those are the police keeping an eye on things.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When I was growing up in Japan, we, as a bunch of largely foreigners. used to find ourselves at the beach in the summer on a regular basis. As teenagers, we were befriended by a bunch of yakuza who were at the beach on a regular basis during the summer. And, I'll be honest with you, they were friendly, generous guys. We knew what they did and we knew their dark side, but on a personal level, it was fun to hang out with them. And they were decent, well-behaved while "off-the-clock".

Just so no one misunderstands, this is not an endorsement of yakuza nor romanticizing what they do. Many lives have been ruined by yakuza and they are a scourge in Japan. This was more of just speaking to the story's point about them "being people too."

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think I've seen some running a market stall at Sensouji a few years ago... wearing hapi coats with some sort of okonomiyaki griddle. I'm assuming they were Yaks because some people were dragging their kids away from them looking rather worried.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Get proper jobs and contribute.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Better than similar organizations in other countries. They protect the poor and the weak. They only pick on the big and the bully

And groups of little old ladies who are in a spot they want to take.

Kind of enjoying visualizing young yaks panicking and beating a hasty retreat from a bunch of middle aged witches though. Those women can be scarier than the yaks!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No matter where you live, you are going to have crime syndicates. There's no escaping it. And never underestimate the intelligence of the men at the top. Those guys could just as easily be the CEOs of multinational businesses and industries. And probably do a better job of it that many current CEOs. It's the soldiers on the ground, generally young and dumb, who cause the problems. The leaders stay hidden and well behaved. The same is true in the Yakuza, the Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Mexican drug cartels and all the rest in the world. Of them all, the Russian mafia is by far the worst. Complete barbarians. yeah, it's all crime, all illegal, all violent and nasty and despicable. But I'll tell you what. I'd far rather hang out with a Yakuza than any of the other crime syndicates. I'd have a better chance of surviving. But one of the older ones. Not one of the young stupid ones.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Strangeeland you have absolutely no basis to make those claims, there are many many unreported assaults and contant harassment as well as beatdowns dished out by these gangsters here, you need to gain perspective. They may not always resct outbin public, but they DO react, followingbyou home or to your workplace or wherever and bad things happen.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Wonderful, great, stupendous. The Japanese need that, like the US needs a write-up on the Mafia showing how they kiss babies and celebrate Christmas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

*Those I've met on the beach in the summer have been polite and accommodating, some with happy families.***** yeah happy family life at home, drugs, porn, prostitution, fraud, embezzlement , extortion, intimidation during work. glossy on the outside rotten on the inside.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Funny how yakuza are really into the culture and even tattoo cherry blossoms on their back yet they drive German cars.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yes, the yakuzas are people too wanting to enjoy simple things in life. About those old ladies, who knows those ladies husbands or kins are members of rival groups. Sometimes all the facts aren't shown in articles like this.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You guys ever watch The Godfather? Just people trying to live your ordinary hoi poloi lives,if you will. As long as they don't try to mess with the rest of us, you cares about them? The next time the yakuza try anything dodgy which involves you, then we have reason to complain.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This article needs photos.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Dadude. I've wondered the same. And why they sport rolex. . . And why they brag about a blonde gal under their thumb.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Wc626 Because yaks consider themselves ballin playas. May as welk ask why the gold necklaces? In their infantile minds, blonde gal and black dude in porn movies equals the epitome of status. ie. something which they in reality aren't.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This all sounds made up. At least I'd hope. Is life really such a cartoon? - with Yakuza-s giving interviews, and someone publishing stories, in such an amateurish, buffoonish, way. - designed to rile up the likely lads.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@katsu78, I was thinking the exact same thing. Kudos to that lady for standing her ground.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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