Unlike many organized crime groups, like the Triads and the Mafia, which evolved from secret societies, the model of the Yakuza was the machi yakko (町奴, “town servant”), vigilantes protectors within the community (Although many citizens also view them as kabukimono or crazy ones, for their propensity toward violence, vulgar slang, and bizarre appearance) or the masterless samurai ronin. As a result, at least in the JIS and it’s protectorates, Yakuza groups maintain open offices, often with a wooden plank on the front door displaying the group name and their emblem. Yakuza members often wear sunglasses and flashy suits so that their profession can be immediately recognized by civilians (堅気, katagi). Members typically wear insignia pins on their suits, and, if needed, can display their tattoos or customized cyberware.
Organization and Activities
The Yakuza group are typically headed by the Oyabun (親分, “father” or “boss”) or Kumicho (組長, “family head”), who issues orders to his subordinates, the kobun (子分, “children”). This is a variation of the traditional Japanese social heirarchal structure of senpai-kohai (Senior-Junior). There are some exceptions to this, such as the Inagawa-kai, which operates with multiple kumicho, all of which share equal power within the organization.
A Yakuza members connection within the organization is based off the place in the order of the sakazuki (盃, “sake sharing”) ritual. The sakazuki ritual is sharing the sake from a single cup with another, and comes from the traditional practice of a Shinto wedding. Kumicho are the top of the organization, and control saiko-komon (最高顧問, “senior advisors”). The saiko-komon are responsible for their own turf in different cities or regions, and have their own underlings, like underbosses, advisors, accountants, and enforcers. Those who receive sake directly from the kumicho are consider the “immediate family” and are ranked in term of elder or younger brothers. However, each kobun, in turn, can offer sakazuki as if they where the kumicho to his underlings to form an affiliated organization, which might in turn form lower rank organizations.
Yakuza refer to each other as if they where family members, such as fathers, elder and younger brothers. However, contray to Western belief, blood relation is not necessary for membership into the Yakuza, as it is with the Mafia, and the Yakuza accept non-Japanese members, such as Korean-Japanese, into their ranks. Many Yakuza members cut all family ties upon joining the organization and immediately transfer loyalty to the kumicho. The Yakuza group replaces the family in the lives of its members.
The Yakuza have a presence throughout Seattle and their success puts them squarely in the path of the Mafia. The struggle for power between the two has been long and bloody…and showing no signs of slowing down.
- Angel’s Express
- Ling Ho
- Tun Tun Saw’s
- Drunken Non-Com
- The Joke
- Anton’s – A newly established Yakuza safehouse and street clinic.
The Yakuza have many safehouses scattered throughout Seattle that they use as rallying points and centers of operations in their ongoing conflict with the Mafia. Tacoma is the battleground between the two. It is not unheard of for brief periods of cooperation between the two, but any such alliances are fragile and prone to violent ends.