I don’t know how many ‘yakuza fans’ will read this, but anyways, just a post about, well, yakuza.
Many people I’ve met say “O-m-g, I just looove yakuza! Where do I go to find them?” and my reply is to laugh and make a run for it, because these days ignorance cannot be cured. This is what I have to say to people who glamorize, fetishize, and idolize the yakuza:
Yakuza, ninkyō dantai, gokudō, bōryokudan, whatever you want to call them, are very complex. Yakuza men don’t stand beside their limos taking drags on sexy cigarettes behind shades, and wear crisp business suits hiding muscular physiques and elaborate tattoos, yakuza women don’t stand in anatomically impossible positions with their one-layer kimonos sliding off to reveal bulging breast and curves and a sword strapped to their thighs, however, that’s what the movies and art show them doing, so it must be true, right?
You don’t stroll into Shinjuku-ku and snap pictures of yakuza and have sexy yakuza babes fall at your feet. They don’t stand around in Kabuki-cho looking sexily dangerous. They’re actually, you know, dangerous. And for the last time, manga is not an accurate representation of anything in Japan. Live with it.
Yakuza deal with drugs, weapons, assassinations, prostitution, pornography, kidnapping, extortion, beatings, and plain thuggery. They shoot people. They blackmail. Demand ‘protection money’ from common citizens. Women are marginalized. They aren’t all O-Ren Ishii. And they do it while looking normal and boring. Not in kimonos.
Unless you’re Japanese or have lived in Japan for a long time, it’s hard to understand the yakuza. The movies are popular, sure, but at the end of the day they are feared like any other organized syndicate of criminals. I can’t even explain it properly.
I’m sure it’s very tempting to fall into elaborate fantasies of the above-described yakuza, in beautiful traditional Japanese house, tea ceremonies, slow-motion katana duels, and possibly passionate lovemaking on a futon with tattoos glinting in the moonlight. I’m not telling you to stop all that, but before you worship them just remember yakuza means organized crime, hardened and violent criminals, not always honorable samurai, but people who can and will cause real pain.
And for those of you who’d like to date one, the last thing you want to do is potentially be sold off to the nearest brothel or get involved in a criminal lifestyle. If that’s what you do want, let me know how it goes. I for one will pay my rent and keep my head down and hope they never notice me. ^_^
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.