The origin of the Japanese mafia, called yakuza, is debatable. Kristinn Árnason researched and wrote a paper about the origins of the group, but did not make a solid claim about it’s genesis.

But one thing’s for certain, repeated all throughout Árnason’s paper: the yakuza is recognized in Japanese society. Now, whether this recognition is borne out of fear, of reverence, or of the group’s philanthropy will not be discussed in this post.

In fact, this is but a light reading about a yakuza-influenced series called Gokusen, and the things you should NOT do to reveal you’re yakuza.

Let’s start!

1. Use ‘goods’ instead of ‘evidence.’


2. Use ‘snitch’


3. Call the police ‘fuzz.’



4. Say ‘Watch your back.’ instead of ‘Take care.’


5. Ask for the culprit by saying ‘Come clean, dammit!’


Or use omae (お前)and yaro (やろ) in the same sentence for that matter.

6. Call your helpers ‘henchmen.’gokusen_7

7. Think of all your relationships in the oyabun-kobun way.gokusen_19

Oyabun-kobun is the like the father-son relationship within the group. Iwao Ishino refers to this as a ritual kinship. (On a totally unrelated note but because I watched Memoirs of a Geisha recently, this oyabun-kobun pattern is also apparent in geisha houses where there’s a mother and some girls who are treated as daughters, and in turn, treat each other as sisters.)

8. Get excited by mobster movies.gokusen_10

9. Give a lecture about fighting.gokusen_11

10. Say ‘retribution’ at a friendly contest.gokusen_13

11. Divulge the nickname your henchmen call you.gokusen_15

12. Be indulgent with your expletives and impolite alternatives.

13. Use ‘risky shit.’gokusen_20

14. Refer to The Good Lifegokusen_8

Now, this is a curious thing for me as there seem to be a polarizing point of view about the yakuza. Is the yakuza innately evil or good? Is the yakuza simply an organized syndicate or a noble Japanese Robin Hood faction?

Whichever side you believe is okay. As for Gokusen, the yakuza is obviously painted in positive light.


Header from