Chipbibliothek - Wissen der 6. Welt
Yakuza: Slang

From: (Genichi Nishio)
Subject: Re: SRII/CP2020 : Problems with the Yakuzas
Date: 5 Aug 1994 20:13:49 GMT

Sorry, I couldn't find yakuza-related books written in English. "Black Rain" is a good movie for Japanese yakuza. If you can see Japanese comic/Japanimation, "Emblem Take Two" is also useful.

Here is a short description for traditional Japanese yakuza

  1. What the name "yakuza" mean?

    8-9-3. The word "ya" means "8," "ku" means "9," and "za" means "3." The name comes from "Oicho-Kabu," a Japanese gambling game like blackjack. Instead of 21, 19 is the strongest in Oicho-Kabu. Suppose that two cards are dealt to a gambler, "8" and "9", which make 17, a rather strong hand. But he decides to draw a more card. And comes "3", leaving a sum of 20. Now all is over. His hand is useless. This is the origin of the name "yakuza," useless hands in the society.

  2. How yaks organize themselves?

    First, there are two types of yakuza, family yakuza and lone yakuza.

    The former is yakuza who belong to some families, like mafia.

    A family is structured as a real family in old traditional Japan. A family has a Father. It has also many children of the Father. There can be some brothers of the Father. The Father is the head of the family. All other members serve to the Father. In return, he protects every members in his family. Every members never fear to die for family and Father.

    If someone wants to become a member of a family, he must become a child of the Father. To do so, the newcomer and the Father drink a small amount of sake (Japanese alcohlic beverage) from a same cup. This ceremony is called "Sakazuki."

    Sometimes, a strong child has his own children, consisting his own new family. For example,

                        Big Father
                |           |            |
              child       child       child / Small Father
                                    |               |
                                 child            child
    A very powerful family can have a long chain of sub-families, child- families, grandchild-families, and so on. A typical family has 20-200 members, so the whole family group may count thousands of members.

    A lone yakuza has no family to belong. He has no companions to help him. Because yakuza is a organized business, going alone is not an easy way to live. No families permit a lone yakuza to operate in their territories. A competent yakuza can survive several years. Only a few genuine yakuza manages to build his own new family from zero.

  3. What is "katagi"?

    "Katagi" is the opposite comcept of "yakuza." Usually all non-yakuza people are considered to be katagi. It is prohibited for yakuza to slay katagi people.

  4. How yaks recognize each other?

    Anyone can easily tell low-ranked yakuza from the katagi. They are so conspicuous. High-ranked yakuza are difficult to tell. Their behavior and fashion are moderate. But their rank is so high that their faces are known to all yakuza.

    To recognize yakuza's families, there are "daimon," family emblems. Each family has its own daimon, and family members have small badges of their family daimon. High-ranked members are permitted to have golden badge. Daimon is the primary identifier of yakuza families.

  5. What yaks do?

    Protection racket is the most important money source of yakuza. Other sources are varies from family to family. It depends on the origin of the family.

    There are four major origins of yakuza. Yakuza operation is basically based on the origin of their family.

    • Bakuto
    • Tekiya
    • Uyoku
    • Gurentai

    "Bakuto" means "gambler." Throughout the Japanese history, gambling has been illegan, thus in yakuza's territory. Owners of gambling houses, bankers and bodyguards formed Bakuto yakuza. The primal activities of Bakuto yakuza are gambling houses (of course), bucket shops, loan shark, collecting debt etc.

    "Tekiya" means small merchants who opened street stalls at festivals. When a festival was held in a city, many Tekiya merchants gathered there. Tekiya yakuza was the boss of such Tekiya merchants. Each merchant paid small fee to open his stall. In return, Tekiya yakuza protected them during the festival. As Japanese society was industrialized, Tekiya yakuza expanded their protection racket. Now they have their strong territories in cities and demand protection fee to all shopkeepers in their territories.

    "Uyoku" means political right. They are nationalists, traditionalists, monarchists (emperor), and anti-communists. They believes the Pacific War was the holy war to protect Asian nations from Western imperialism. They also hate megacorps. Big media corporations are the primal target of Uyoku yakuza attack. Their money sources are in mystery, but it is rumored that they have strong connections with politicians.

    "Gurentai" means "city thugs." They are grouped violent thugs. Bakuto/Tekiya families often have their long traditions. Gurentai don't. They have no policy, so do anything for money. Corporations use Gurentai yakuza for various purposes. They are so useful.

    Prostitution, drug dealing, blackmailing and badger game are also yakuza's common activities.

  6. What yaks do not?

    Theft and robbery are considered "shameful." They intimidate and blackmail instead.

    Murdering katagi people was strictly prohibited by code of honor. The code, however, is often ignored today. Murder for insurance money is not rare recently.

  7. What yaks hate?

    To be insulted. Disgracing himself.

    A yakuza cares his reputation very much, because his income relies on how he is feared by others. When he is made light of, he ends.

  8. I'm now threaten by yakuza. What can I do to escape?

    Hire another yakuza. Competent one is desirable. He will negotiate and solve your problem in peace.

    Of course it is not free. The more competent yakuza you hire, the higher commission rate he demands. But whole expenses will be lower at last.

  9. Tell me yakuza titles and slangs

    guns, especially pistols
    katana, sword
    search/arrest warrant
    money paid to a imprisoned yakuza from his family
    executive members in a family permitted to have golden badge of daimon
    collecting debt
    the head of a family, Father
    bucket shop
    uncle (father's brother)
    the term of imprisonment
    war between yakuza families
    small brother
    the chief of Kumicho's brothers in a family ranked higher than Waka-gashira, but with less power
    territory, protection racket
    badger game
    the chief of children in a family usually No.2 in the family

Autor: Genichi Nishio