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Confessions of a Yakuza: A Life in Japan's Underworld by Junichi Saga (1995-07-15)

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  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Kodansha USA (1643)
  • Unknown
  • 8
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Review Text

  • By Linda Trevillian on August 10, 2014

    This book was a wonderful history lesson about the underworld in Japan for me. I've given several copies as gifts since I bought it.

  • By Edward Forsythe on December 22, 1999

    I thought this was an interesting peek into a shadow world that few non-members live to tell about. The interview style of writing keeps the story moving and allows the author to interject his own insights. There are a few areas where the translation was editted and anecdotes are glossed over, but they don't detract from the overall enjoyment of this work. I recommend it for anyone interested in seeing what life in the old-time Japanese mafia was like. I enjoyed this book so much, that I passed it along to my Dad. If you like Japan and its culture, you'll like this book. Gambatte!

  • By A customer on January 18, 1997

    The book is a soft read; it keeps you interested only if you enjoy reading of real life Japan, which I do. Not oneof the best flowing tales with a lot of holes (probably due to the translation of the extended interview the book is based on.) Story does not delve deeply into the "world" of the yakuza but tries to show it on the surface through the story of one of its fringe members. Human interest vice violence

  • By TC on November 28, 2003

    I really enjoyed this book. It's simple, yet fascinating. The life of a pre-WWII gangster in Tokyo centered around gambling operations, which the doctor/author introduces to the reader through the biography of one hardened patient from a different era.The book's subject has a refined old-world gangster quality that demands respect and makes the story more compelling.I particularly like the subject's disdain for an easy life, instead embracing the adventure of the Japanese underworld.Apparently Bob Dylan cited the book on an album. Bob aside, the book is terrific!

  • By Michael on November 27, 2014

    Amazing how a single book can change a person's perspective on a subject. A most excellent narration that will have your full attention.

  • By Z. Kaplan on January 13, 2008

    There is much to like about this book - it simply taking place in Japan, a culture so different than the United States, makes it interesting; another layer of interest is in the time frame, which begins in the early 1900s; and, of course, the most obvious twist of all is in its exploration of the organized crime syndicate, the Yakuza. It is important to have an account of the sort of life one would live under these circumstances in that far from the Hollywood presentation we've grown accustomed to, this tells the story very honestly and without much glamor. On the other hand, it is told in a retrospective, anecdotal fashion; as this is not a Yakuza boss's memoir but the story of a Yakuza boss's life as narrated to another, recorded on tape and transcribed to text, it loses much of the emotion and immediacy that it would have if told in the moment. Its being narrated to another presents us only with pieces of a larger picture, as well - Eiji's prison terms, military conscription and time spent as a night boatman, transporting people through the darkness, hidden from the eyes of the corrupt police force, for example, could have multiple chapters devoted to them, but instead we only get one or two of the most interesting anecdotes of each. The darker parts of the biography detailing murders and men selling their wives so as to keep up their gambling habits are disturbing but detached; one chapter ends with the sentence "It's pretty frightening, really, when you think about it...." which I think sums up the feeling pretty well - we shake our heads but do not feel truly disturbed, as we might if the story were presented in a different voice. Though the editor's note explains that he removed some of the more confusing and tedious parts, I doubt that this would alter the feeling that we are simply getting a few glimpses at a much larger picture. Another gripe is that some of the humor gets lost in translation, and when someone tries to make a joke, simply the way it is phrased ruins it. For example, the gambler Tsukada Saburo tells him, "Well, making things is just my line - I can even make babies with other men's wives! - and this was a cinch for me." I'm sure that you get the idea. But that is a small flaw, and the book as a whole, while not being entirely enveloping or emotionally gripping, is still very interesting and enjoyable, and worth a read for sure.

  • By Cassandra Fryxell on June 15, 2015

    Bought this as a gift for my bestie, because she loves Japanese gangs and fiction, and she loves it so much!

  • By Mike on February 28, 2015

    great exciting book to read

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