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Japan Subculture Research Center

A guide to the Japanese underworld, Japanese pop-culture, yakuza and everything dark under the sun.

Better late than never: Yakuza play Santa for kids in Kobe


Jan 2, 2010

Not the actual Yamaguchi-gumi event. (Taken by nori_n)Not the actual Yamaguchi-gumi event. (Taken by nori_n, who is not affiliated with JSRC)

As posted on Japan Probe earlier this week, the Yamaguchi-gumi decided to add a little extra generosity to their annual mochi-making event at their headquarters in Kobe by handing out cash ‘o-toshi dama’ gifts, snacks and toys to children who attended.

The cash was handed out in two types of small envelopes in the names of “Tsukasa” or “Takayama,” apparently representing gang boss Kenichi Shinoda (also known as Shinobu Tsukasa) and junior leader Kiyoshi Takayama, respectively. It is not known how many children received the cash handouts, accompanied by snacks and toys.

Hyogo Prefectural Police suspect that the move was aimed at publicizing the gang’s current leadership system and appeasing local residents ahead of the release of Shinoda, who is currently serving a prison term for weapons violations.

The PR trick seemed to work because, according to the Mainichi, they got twice the usual turnout at the event.

Shinobu Tsukasa

If you were to get a Christmas present from the Yamaguchi-gumi, what would you wish for?

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