Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, May 02, 2010

An Encounter with the Yakuza

At the Japan Subculture Research Center, there was an article about one western woman's encounter with the Yakuza in Japan. It makes for some interesting reading. An excerpt is below. The whole article may be read here.

A long line of cars were waiting for their chance to pump gas. In the one of the spotless open repair bays stood a man in a dark suit with a gray turtleneck sweater and highly polished shoes. In front of him was a man older than he, also dressed in black. Unlike the man in the suit who was bald, or had totally shaved his head, this man had a huge shock of hair. Two guys, one on either side of the man in the suit, were facing the older, very thin man in black.

The suited man would ask a question (I was out of ear shot so could not hear the tone, but he seemed very composed, steely quiet in his questioning) and the man in black would answer in a highly agitated and animated way. It was striking to me that so much could be understood from body language and stance. The bay was very, very brightly lit. All of this was going on in full view of everyone in line — maybe as many as 20 cars full of people.

When the agitated man apparently did not answer to the satisfaction of the man in the suit he would nod, and the two tough-looking muscular guys with him would haul off and hit the guy, generally in the head. His face was very bloody. My support car was parked on the outskirts of the parking lot. There was a sign on the car clearly stating what I was doing, and press coverage had made most people aware of who I was all over Japan. Still, I could not help myself.

I went to someone who seemed to work there and asked why this was going on, why no one stopped it or called the police. I was told one word, “yakuza,” and that they could not stop it. The beaten man had failed to repay his loan on time and he was being punished. I started to cry and stuck out like a sore thumb in the brightly lit area of the pumps, visible to those in the bay. I moved back out towards the perimeter, but did not want to call attention to my car… as if this foreign lady on foot in running gear could do anything but draw attention!


Ikigai said...

interesting read. Glad the author was able to get away and tell the tale.

Rick Matz said...

Not a good situation.