Paper On The Yakuza, Its Origins And Schemes

1294 words - 5 pages

Yakuza: Samurai Misfits, Gambling Degenerates and other Assorted RuffiansBy Will DonovanAmerica has the Mob. Ireland has the IRA. Southeast Asia has the Triads. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have the Tong. These are all old, powerful crime organizations. . Japan has the Yakuza. We will explore the Yakuza, from their origins, to their operations and their current day situation.The Yakuza can trace their origins back to as early as 1612, when people known as the Kabuki-mono("crazy ones"), began to attract the attention of officials. Their strange clothing, haircuts and behavior made them stand out quite a bit in the cookie-cutter years of the shogunate. Kabuki-mono made a habit of terrorizing anyone at their leisure, even to the point of cutting people down for fun. The Kabuki-mono were eccentric samurai, taking strong names for their gangs and speaking mostly in slang. Their loyalty to one another was remarkable, as they would protect each other from any threat. The Kabuki-mono were servants of the Shogun, in groups made of nearly 500,000 samurai. Unemployed during the peaceful times of the Tokugawa era, they were forced into becoming Ronin. Many became bandits, terrorizing Japan.But the Kabuki-mono are not the great-grandfathers of the Yakuza. The Yakuza see the Machi-yokko( " Servant of the Town") as their ancestors. They were the ones who took up arms and protected themselves against the Kabuki-mono. They were farmers, laborers and ronin. Everyone who was part of the Machi-yokko was a skilled gambler, which helped them develop almost like a family with each other and their leaders.The early Yakuza did not surface and start to take shape until the late 1700's. The Machi-yokko began organizing into families, using a relationship known as Oyabun/Kobun (Father/ Son). The Oyabun was the "father", providing advice, protection, and help. The Kobun acted as the "Child", swearing allegiance and service whenever the Oyabun needed it. The initiation rite for the Yakuza was born as this time. Instead of ceremonies like giving blood, practiced by the Mafia and Triads, Yakuza exchange Sake cups to symbolize entrance into the Yakuza, and the Oyabun/Kobun relationship. This was practiced in front of a Shinto shrine, giving it religious purpose.Later on, another group joined to make what we call the Yakuza. These people were called Bakuto(" The gamblers"). They were employed by the government to gamble with construction and irrigation workers in orders to get back some of their wages. The Bakato contributed to Japans tradition to gambling, as well as the Yakuza "Finger-Cutting", and the origin of the word Yakuza. The word Yakuza comes from a hand in a card game called hanafuda(Flower Cards), which is similar to blackjack. 3 cards are dealt per player, and the last digit of the card total counts as your score. A hand of 20, the worst score, gives the player a score of zero. One such losing hand is 8-9-3, or ya0ku-sa, which over time became slang for useless. The...

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