How I met my yakuza friend

Someone asked me what was the most unexpected thing for me during my stay in Japan. Well, I never thought I became a friend of a yakuza. We all hear the stories about them but get close to them is a different story. Even Japan is more and more open, their world is still closed from Westerners.
But let’s start at the beginning. I was in Japan a year ago, in Yokohama. (There are other posts about the work there, here I don’t want to repeat myself.) He arrived at the club as a normal looking customer with a friend of his. He requested me and I didn’t suspect anything besides he was a tough looking guy. We were chatting, joking and I was impressed because he spoke quite good English and we could hold an interesting conversation about Japanese culture, not the usual “Kiss me!” or “What colour is your panties?” We were talking about samurais and the old days of Japan.
On his shirt, it was the top button open and I spotted the tattoo on his chest. That moment I knew he’s a yakuza. Of course, little curious me, I asked him to show it! He showed me the photos of his fully tattooed back and sleeves on his phone, actually, he didn’t even try to hide his identity. Doesn’t it exciting to hear all those stories and now I’m sitting with someone who holds the key to that secret world? As he told me, he doesn’t give as*** about foreigners’ opinion, but of course, he’s not that open amongst Japanese people. I didn’t want to interview him but I had lots of questions in my head. But after that night we didn’t see each other soon.
I almost forget about him as the Sakura arrived at Yokohama and I was keen to arrange a photo shooting with the cherry blossoms. It’s a very exciting time in Japan, everyone goes to the parks watching the flowers. I was lucky to find a talented young photographer and we went to a park one afternoon to take the photos. We finished quite late and I asked him to escort me back to the club because I was still not familiar with the place and I didn’t want to get lost and be late for work. It was everything fine, I arrived on time and I was still buzzing because I was sure the photos we took are excellent. But as it was expected, later my friend who was also my promoter in the club asked me:
“Mama-san asks if you have a boyfriend!”
“Because one of your customers saw you with a guy afternoon. He called the manager (who was on her holiday in Thailand), she called Mama-san and Mama-san asked me and now I’m asking you who was that guy?”
Photo by Hugo Poveda
Yeah, a guy with a suitcase, a camera and a huge tripod! I told her he’s a photographer and we had a photo shoot. Of course, I got a lesson that I shouldn’t meet with young handsome Latino guys because my old Japanese customers don’t want to request me after. But I had no idea who could have been the customer who saw me, or to be totally honest, I didn’t care that much. (I think they knew but didn’t want to tell.) Later on that night my yakuza friend came to the club and requested me. I immediately knew it was him. Such a coincidence, I haven’t seen him maybe 2 weeks and all of a sudden he shows interest in me! Ah, some men are so simple! I told him the story about the photographer and a crazy customer who disturbed my manager on her holiday with such stupid questions and I pretended to be upset about it. Until today he’s saying it was not him but his friend 🙂 Whatsoever, I was laughing on it.
After work, he and his friend invited us for breakfast. We went to a traditional Japanese place where you must sit on the floor. I was wearing a dress so I didn’t really feel good about it. He noticed and took off his jacket, and covered my legs with it.
“Now you can sit comfortably!”
During breakfast, I was secretly watching him. He’s a yakuza but he behaves like a perfect gentleman! I was impressed. Another day after work he took me to a park. We were sitting under hundreds of cherry trees (the whole scene felt like we’re sitting in a huge cloud of pink flowers) and he talked about what the cherry blossoms mean to the samurai spirit. It was so dreamy and I felt safe with him. I started to see him after on a regular base and I spent my days at his place. Obviously, at work they didn’t like it, long story short, they asked me to choose between him and my job. At work I was already stressed so without hesitating I told them:
“Ok, no problem, I book my ticket home.”
Not because I was in love or I planned my future life with a yakuza (Well, I must think twice if I want to be with a guy who keeps a gun in his wardrobe..) but more about the principal they pushed me to the wall to decide. But I didn’t regret my choice. After he offered me that I can stay in his place, so I stayed 2 more weeks in Japan and we visited several places around Yokohama. I think I’ve seen all the shrines of Kamakura, and trust me, there are a few there! (We were together 24/7 and two strong but different characters under the same roof, of course, it led us to some fight. I told him it’s like I got a ticket to an emotional roller coaster with him and it never stops. But about that, I will write later.)
But most importantly we understood each other perfectly. I felt we’re both on the periphery of the community, he’s a yakuza, I’m a stripper, we’re wearing the same kind of social stigmas. Until today we talk a lot on the phone. And every time I complain about my current job or the girls I work with, he always offers his gun sent by DLR to me! 🙂
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Yakuza in Japan

My favourite question about Japan: Have you ever seen any yakuza there? You won’t believe how many people are asking me that if I mention I was working in Japan or by email when they read my articles here. Funny, but Japan is not all about yakuza.
But answering the question: yes, I met a few. If you’ve been to Japan probably you met them too as you can’t see the difference between a well-dressed yakuza and an average businessman. They don’t like to show off. You can easily pass him on the street without knowing. They even hide their tattoos in public places as they don’t want you to know. Not like some western gangsters that put all the signals on themselves showing they are the tough guys. They came often in the club I worked for. Not a big deal, they never spent on girls just talked about their own business. And you don’t want to interrupt.. especially when the guy has some missing fingers! (Cutting the finger means punishment or apology amongst them.) I had this customer once. I didn’t even want to know his name.
But not all of them are bad. (Unless you mess up with them.) Once we were sitting at the table, 3 yakuza, me and other 2 Russian girls. One of the girls spook good Japanese, they were talking, my customer didn’t speak English and my Japanese was not enough to communicate so I just poured his drinks and smile. They ordered drinks for us too. I lifted up my glass to say Kampai! (not even an English cheers!) and the Japanese speaker Russian girl just looked me in the eyes, she said Kampai! to her customer but nothing to me. I found it absolutely disrespectful! If we are not in Japan and I don’t need to behave myself that much, I swear of God I would have thrown my glass to her face! (I think that was the moment when I decided f*** Japan, I’m going home!) But I’m a tough girl too. Without a slip, I put back my glass onto the table and I decided not to touch it. I just watched how the ice is melting in my gin&tonic. It was awkward when the girls finished their drinks and my glass was still full so they couldn’t order the next round. The same Russian girl gave the look to finish my drink but I didn’t care. I didn’t say a word just smiled but my facial expression told her everything. She’s already screwed this up with me. When the customers left, she didn’t say anything (actually I was ready to hear all the complaints to Mama-san about me) The funny thing, after 1 or 2 days the same group came back. The yakuza The Russian girl was sitting with requested me this time. All the time he asked me if I’m okay, he ordered the drink without asking and even bought food for us. And I thought he was unaware of the situation! I felt his sympathy although he never asked what was going on between me and the Russian girl.
My other experience was not so friendly. We had 2 customers and another girl and I were sent to the table to look after them. You have to know about Japanese hostess clubs (even normal clubs and restaurants) there is not enough place between the tables. The other girl sat on the edge of the sofa and I had to go to sit with this guy through a very narrow place between the two tables. We just introduced ourselves when 3 young guys run into the club and started to hit my customer. The other girl and all the staff run into the kitchen and they were screaming at me to go there too. But I quickly analysed the situation, if I stand up wearing high heels and try to get out from the table through that narrow place I’m sure I would have gotten a punch in my pretty face too by accident. I decided to curl up on the sofa and protected my head and face from the flying object around (glasses, bottles, glass pieces) I was not their target anyway.
One more yakuza arrived (he was the boss of the other 3 as anybody could see) He had charisma. Didn’t talk much but he gave the order to the young to take the guy outside and not to make a mess inside the club. Obviously, they continued beating him up outside but it was not our business any more. We just quickly cleaned up the mess of what they left behind.
So yes, I met yakuza in Japan. Indeed I slept with one. But this is another story…
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