10 Interesting Facts About Famous Japanese Mafia, Yakuza

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The traditional Japanese card game Oicho-Kabu is where the term “yakuza” first came. Although the number of Yakuza members has decreased since the Anti-Boryokudan Act was put into effect in 1992, there are still about 12,300 active Yakuza members in Japan as of 2021, indicating that the Yakuza are still very active. Yakuza are one of the most infamous gangs in the world, the Yakuza engage in extortion, gambling, and other illegal activities. They are practically popular in Japan due to their widespread fame. These 10 Yakuza-related facts could surprise you. 

10 Interesting Facts About Famous Japanese Mafia, Yakuza

1. In The 1960s, there were more than 180,000 Yakuza Members

The Yakuza reached its height in the immediate aftermath of World War II when Japan was in a complete mess. The idea of honourable gangsters was still prevalent at the time, and the two factors combined to bring many young people in Japan right to the Yakuza’s door.

2. The term “Yakuza” refers to Gambling, but they call themselves Robin Hood 

The yakuza emerged from a peddling and gambling culture in Japan that dates to the 18th century, but they consider their roots as far deeper. 

The history of the yakuza’s founding is revealed through the name’s origin. Yakuza, which is made up of the three letters Ya, Ku, and Za, means “Good for Nothing” or “Born to Lose.” However, if you break it up, it becomes “eight-nine-three,” which is the name of a poor hand in the well-liked card game hanafuda, a game similar to blackjack.

3. Willingness to Participate in Politics

In Japanese politics, the Yakuza are significant players. They receive financial support from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a right-wing political party that has been in power since 1955 and has deep connections to it. Nobusuke Kishi, the first LDP prime minister, had close ties to the Yakuza and granted bail to one of its members who had been found guilty of murder. The Yakuza can have a major impact on influencing more voters to the LDP because these people are so dependent on them for employment.

4. Initiation Ritual

The Yakuza places a strong value on honour and position. New recruits, known as kobun (child roles), are forced to serve one of the higher-ranking members, known as oyabun, in a submissive capacity (father role). To reach the top of the organization’s leadership structure, one must advance through a number of tiers.

The initiation ceremony, or sakazuki goto, is centered around sake. While the drink is being prepared by other members, the recruit will sit across from his oyabun. The oyabun will have his cup filled to the brim, while the recruit will receive a much lower quantity to indicate their status. This suggests a bond that is almost father-son.

5. An Exam is Required by the Yakuza Faction in order to become a Gangster 

Members must pass a 12-page exam to join the Yamaguchi-Gumi, the largest Yakuza organization in Japan. The exam was developed by the Yamaguchi-Gumi when the government established stricter legislation to combat organized crime. By ensuring that they are aware of the law, the exam was an effort to keep its members out of trouble. The exam covers everything, including gangster customs and auto theft.

6. All tattoos on Yakuza Members are created using the Japanese Technique of “Stick and Poke” 

A full body of intricately drawn tattoos is one of the most well-known ways that a Yakuza member stands out. The Bakuto are the originators of this tradition, who would tattoo bright designs all over their bodies. The ink is introduced manually using irezumi, a traditional technique, with the use of hand-made instruments and bamboo needles that have been sharpened. Due to the suffering that is caused by this treatment, which is also incredibly expensive and can take years to finish, it is considered a reflection of someone’s wealth as well as their fortitude and toughness.

7. A Yakuza Member must Surgically remove the tip of their Little Finger if they make a mistake 

Members of the Yakuza who disobey or bring dishonour upon the organisation are required to make apologies in a very brutal way by having a portion of their finger chopped off. Many Yakuza members have lost part of their little fingers as a result of this practice known as “yubitsume,” which means “finger shortening.” Many members agree to this punishment voluntarily in order to escape more severe penalties, such as being expelled from the organization or even being killed.

8. Initially, there were two Yakuza Factions

The first group, the Tekiya, included some of the lowest echelons of Japanese society and were regular street vendors. They developed into organized criminality in the 17th century after becoming so. The second category consisted of the gamblers known as Bakuto, who was hated by practically every other person in Japanese society. They also behaved in a predatory manner. The name Yakuza originates from the Bakuto since cards were one of their main sources of wealth during that time.


9. In Japan, belonging to the Yakuza is Legal

It would be an understatement to suggest that the Yakuza and the Japanese police have a difficult relationship. While whatever criminal activity they engage in is unquestionably prohibited, simply being a Yakuza member isn’t! The Yakuza headquarters themselves as well as companies affiliated with them have prominent signage.

10. The Gang Yakuza used to Blackmail Corporations

 The Yakuza’s preferred method of bribery is known as sokaiya. To be able to attend shareholder meetings, they would first purchase stock in the company. Then, if they are not paid, they will dig out as much information as they can about the business and threaten to expose it in a meeting. This strategy typically works since shame is the biggest dread among Japanese people. Targeted companies include Mitsubishi, where a blackmailer was sentenced to 8 months in prison. Since the Yakuza cannot attend all meetings simultaneously, scheduling sessions concurrently has shown to be the most successful strategy for dealing with this. Up to 90% of firms now hold their shareholder meetings on the same day. 


The Yakuza fascinates me the most because we only know the most about them in more recent history, following their downfall. Japan won’t be the same after the Yakuza are gone, while that in itself will be a good thing. All of this may be true, but the top mafia in Japan is far more complex than that. You only need to sit back and read all about the Yakuza because the article talks about all the extensive research and surprising facts about them.

Read also20 Facts you should know about Bhutan

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