小樽 Otaru – Where the Glass Glows

After a small girl waved me goodbye at Sapporo Station, I started my journey back home. My next stop was Otaru which I had passed the previous day. Between Sapporo and Otaru there is a nice and huge cliff in the ocean which I had seen glowing brightly due to the sunshine of the setting sun on the previous day.

In Otaru, there are, interestingly, a lot of chiromancer (i.e. fortune tellers; see. Pictures #12 and #13) although the town is famous for its glass and its hand organ hall (the music there sounds like Harry Potter at times). So, I do not want to be racist by any means with the title; rather, I want to express that this town is renown for its glass studios.

And now, this:

函館 Hakodate – In Japan’s North Star

The stamp shown above is proof that I visited the 五稜郭 Goryōkaku in Hakodate, the only star-shaped fort in Japan, modeled after European forts. Of course, I took photographs there; indeed, I also took photographs of the places I visited before arriving in Hokkaidō. But those photographs went missing in the form of the SD card that they were saved on.

I must have lost the card when changing the battery of my camera in front of the 旧函館区公会堂 Kyū Hakodate Kōkaidō (“Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward”, see below Picture #11) because the SD card was in the same pouch as the battery.

Therefore, there are only photographs that were taken on the second SD card (I changed the cards in the hotel on my way to the public hall). A selection follows.

O Aniki, Where Art Thou?

Something paradox (but to be expected) has happened. I was in Japan for two months, with one of the hopes of being there being able to obtain various information “on location” and writing about it, and yet I haven’t written a single post for this blog in that time.

Now I am back in Germany again and can only write retrospectively about what I have done there. And so it shall be.

Perception and representation of the yakuza in contemporary Japan


This literature review aims to analyze how 20 different academic, official, and public sources represent the phenomenon of yakuza, the organized crime of Japan. Additionally, it will be attempted to show how these sources can be contextualized in the broader scope of Japanese society regarding attitudes towards crime and punishment thereof in general. Although the terms 「ヤクザ」 “yakuza” and 「暴力団」 “bōryokudan” may have distinct meanings and connotations within contemporary Japan, for the purpose of this literature review they will be used interchangeably to refer to the groups and members of the various crime organizations in Japan in its entirety.

With their origins dating back to the 17th century, the yakuza have enmeshed their existence deeply into Japanese society over a long time. As one of the largest crime organizations in the world, their influence and presence on both national and international levels pose severe social questions as to interference with and safety of public life and political and legal actions against that. Since the structure of the yakuza is a reflection of Japanese hierarchical ideas in general (「家」“ie” and 「親分子分」 “oyabun-kobun”) and their self-proclaimed values are known to center around traditional and nationalistic ways of thinking, their public perception can indicate how the public agrees or disagrees with both the values themselves as well as the self-attribution of those values.

Battles Without Honor and Humanity

Due to a lacking topical alternative, I hereby decide to definitely announce the upcoming post. It will be a text on the perception of yakuza in contemporary Japan. The reason for the definite announcement is that I was planning to publish this article quite some time ago, but since always felt that I needed to post something of a different kind before this one. Well.

I started to prepare this article – which is based upon a seminar paper I finished in February of last year – in September for this blog; and I was finished by December with it. At this time, the desire to publish the article grew stronger because apart from the fact that the more I read the text, the more insight-less I found it to be (OK, now I got used to that), there were circumstances that made the yakuza overly present in media again. These were the following.

k-Nearest-Neighbors Darts

Of what use boredom and knowledge of my studies can be. When I was at my grandparents’ in Japan – already last year, I believe –, I had some one or two hours of free time and nothing to do. It was in the afternoon and I wanted to relax a little.

So I was on the second floor and the TV program didn’t really interest me at that moment. I turned to the desk, searched for something, grabbed three arrows and positioned myself towards the corner of the room so as to face a dartboard.


I am back in Germany. OK, I arrived a little bit more than a month ago but as always I didn’t have time until now to tell you that. Shortly before my flight back home I was planning to post a somewhat polemic article on the political landscape in Japan (see below), but as always I didn’t finish the article and I have been swamped with work since my arrival.

So, as a small compensation, I firstly present the somewhat polemic article that I only wrote in English: