Author Archives: Ryusuke Kondo

Tattoo on Yakuza (Japanese Mafia)

In Japanese mafia (called, Yakuza), it is recommended to have tattoos on their back side of body, shoulder, and arms to identify themselves as a member of mafia. Design of tattoos is up to members, but bigger tattoos is better also Japanese design hand painted tattoo is preferred. Hand painted tattooing is much more painful than electronic tattooing. And Japanese tattoo design such as pictures of dragon, koi fish, and tigers require a lot of time and because it is very detailed. More time means more pain and this is how yakuza people show their masculinity. This is kind of initiation after people get in the family. Tattoos are not removable from the skin, so this process challenges them to see if they are ready to be in the family or not. That is one of the reasons to get big tattoos, so that it is harder to remove.

This is the best way to identify who is in the member of mafia. Sometimes, people with tattoo on their body are refused to use hot springs, swimming pool, beach, and gym where bare skins might be exposed. They become socially isolated from majority of group, meaning they can not go back to ordinary people’s life. Japanese mafia also has a technical terms to differentiate their society. They call the society of mafia, Ninkyo (任侠). It represents how their world differs from our society and they try not to involve people other than yakuza in their business.

White Day

This special event is occurs in March 14th, a month after of Valentine’s day in Japan.

In Japan, only girls are able to give flowers or chocolates to guys on Valentine’s day. In March 14th, this time guys need to give back something to girls. It could be anything but he has to give something all girls  who gave him present.

This culture is made because there is “give back” culture in Japan. if someone receives a present from someone on special occasions, the person who receives has to give back something. This is the way of japanese people to keep harmony and fairness between people.

So that everyone feels same.

Three Days Monk

This is a Japanese proverb when to describe a person who can not focus on what they are doing for long.

Three days monk means that someone who tries to be a monk can not to survive in the monk’s very strict daily life for no longer than three days, and come back to be a normal person.

A similar proverb in English may be “Soon hot, soon cold”


Doctor’s Son

This is the tradition in Japan that if the father is a doctor, their son has to become a doctor too. Especially first son in the family is forced to study hard to get into medical schools. The informants family members’ relatives are all doctors, they said they have never forced to be a doctor, but there was unseen pressure from relatives who are also doctors. Doctor’s family in Japan tend to keep their blood line longer and want their children to get a stable job which creates a lot of money. If the son does not want to be a doctor, other options left for him is lawyer or politician.

in the past, this tradition was only for male children, but recently also female children are recommended to become a doctor.

Cleaning Up on New Year’s Eve

This is informant’s tradition that whole family members clean up their house together on new year’s eve. On the last day of year, literally they clean up everything such as washing curtains, throwing out unnecessary things,  cleaning all rooms, washing bed sheets and blankets. The main purpose of this cleaning up is to welcome the new year. Since this is a new year, everything has to be clean and new so that they feel neat and renewed in January 1st.