The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis book review: ‘Confessions of a Yakuza’ by Junichi Saga

Written By: herbrunbridge - Aug• 07•13

ConfessionsYakuzaAt one point, former Yakuza Ijichi Eiji came into physician-writer Junichi Saga’s world as a patient, and thus began a series of conversations than turned into the memoirs  that became the remarkable book Confessions of a Yakuza: a Life in Japan’s Underworld (1991, ISBN 978-4-7700-1948-6). The narratives detail the path taken by Eiji to become an underworld gambling boss. Along the way, we meet his colleagues, enemies, and women, and learn the code under which he lived.

Most of the action here occurs in pre-WWII Japan, although his tale of the looting of war stores after the allied takeover is interesting in itself. There are many memorable tales and elements discussed in the book. The pre-war flophouses where unfortunates eked out a meager existence; the ethics of gambling, police interrogation techniques, including the use of triangular sticks upon which the prisoner was forced to sit while weight was applied. The story about intimidating his future wife’s mother into giving her permission is outstanding, as are the several pages recounting how the evening’s gambling profits were divvied up among Yakuza bosses and their underlings. Particularly fascinating to us here at WoWasis was the story of how men would broker off their wives to brothels to gain money to gamble.

Japan-290x200The book holds special appeal to students of Yakuza, the underworld, and Japanese culture, but is highly recommended to anyone desirous of reading a fascinating tale of adventure centered on a world with which few are familiar.  Buy this book here at the WoWasis eStore!

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