The yakuza are notorious for their strict codes of conduct and their organized fiefdom-nature. They have a yakuza japan’s criminal underworld pdf presence in the Japanese media and operate internationally with an estimated 102,000 members.
The name “Yakuza” originates from the traditional Japanese card game Oicho-Kabu, a game in which the goal is to draw 3 cards adding up to a value of 9. 20 and therefore zero, making it the worst possible hand you can draw. Throughout history, especially since the modern era, Kyushu island has been the largest source of yakuza members, including many renowned bosses in the Yamaguchi-gumi. Kitakyushu area and considered the first renowned modern yakuza.
Recently Shinobu Tsukasa and Kunio Inoue, the bosses of the two most powerful clans in the Yamaguchi-gumi, are from Kyushu. Fukuoka, the northernmost part of the island, has the largest number of designated syndicates among all of the prefectures. As they began to form organizations of their own, they took over some administrative duties relating to commerce, such as stall allocation and protection of their commercial activities.
During Shinto festivals, these peddlers opened stalls and some members were hired to act as security. Each peddler paid rent in exchange for a stall assignment and protection during the fair.
This was a major step forward for the traders, as formerly only samurai and noblemen were allowed to carry swords. Many small gambling houses cropped up in abandoned temples or shrines at the edge of towns and villages all over Japan.
Most of these gambling houses ran loan sharking businesses for clients, and they usually maintained their own security personnel. Because of the economic situation during the mid-period and the predominance of the merchant class, developing yakuza groups were composed of misfits and delinquents that had joined or formed yakuza groups to extort customers in local markets by selling fake or shoddy goods. The roots of the yakuza can still be seen today in initiation ceremonies, which incorporate tekiya or bakuto rituals. The oyabun-kobun relationship is formalized by ceremonial sharing of sake from a single cup.
This ritual is not exclusive to the yakuza—it is also commonly performed in traditional Japanese Shinto weddings, and may have been a part of sworn brotherhood relationships. However, after the war, the yakuza adapted again. Prospective yakuza come from all walks of life.