Yakuza Diary: Doing Time in the Japanese Underworld

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Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996 - 212 pagine
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Japanese gangsters - the yakuza - make up the biggest, richest, and most secretive organized crime syndicates in the world. The combined yakuza is ten times larger than the American Mafia, with profits that would rival any Fortune 500 company. Beyond their enormous wealth and political influence, the modern yakuza are inheritors of a strict four-hundred-year-old code of conduct that, above all else, bars outsiders from their ranks. In Yakuza Diary, Christopher Seymour infiltrates yakuza society, presenting in vivid and often hilarious detail outrageous characters from a world that until now has remained modern Japan's dirty little secret. In the spring of 1993 Seymour talked his way out of the grasp of a suspicious immigration official and into a Japan on the verge of a countrywide yakuza gang war. As the bodies piled up, Seymour's desire to get involved in the action was fulfilled almost immediately, and he was soon cruising the streets and neighborhoods of Tokyo while a series of big-city yakuza showed the "dangerous gaijin" how business is done in the Japanese "shadow world". From assisting a young yakuza drug dealer as he exchanges stolen guns for amphetamines to becoming involved in a scheme to blackmail a Japanese politician, from helping to break in a fresh yakuza candidate to caddying for a murderous yakuza hustler, Seymour spends many months in close company with Japan's most feared and respected gangsters. He watches as they go about interacting with Japan's "legitimate" society and as they try to contain a bloody turf war among themselves. At the end of one vicious yakuza gang war, Seymour is invited to a wild private celebration hosted by the victorious gang. Here thelighter side of the yakuza is seen - their weakness for tacky golf clothes and their obsession with karaoke. What emerges is a cast of unforgettable characters: the top and middle bosses, the obsequious underlings, the women (often Western) who work in the shadowy underworld making money for the men who control them.

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