Tokyo Vice – Diving into Tokyo’s UnderworldPublished on January 15th, 2012.
Perfectly drawn dragons granting wishes to muscular man. Flawless cute girls singing sweet high-pitched tunes that make even strawberries taste salty in comparison. They make Japan seem like a safe haven where nothing could possibly go wrong. Que in the Yakuza. Japan’s organized criminal organisation. It’s listed in the national phone book and visible on the streets in the most seedy areas in Japan.
Most of us have heard about the Yakuza one way or another. But very few of us have come into contact with them. And perhaps it seemed that way too for Jake Adelstein, born Joshua Adelstein, when he traveled from the USA to Japan more than 20 years ago to study Japanese and learn more about martial arts. Becoming one of the first foreign journalists to write for Japan’s biggest newspaper at the time, Jake tells the extraordinary tale of his life as a crime reporter and his contact with the Yakuza in his book “Tokyo Vice“.
In Tokyo Vice Jake takes you from the safe streets of Japan into the gruesome world of the Japanese Yakuza. The beginning of the book starts with a conversation Jake had with a so called enforcer of the Goto-gumi. Threatening to hurt him, but not before they hurt his family, if Jake decides to publish an article. Sparing no details other than those to keep his friends, contacts and sources safe, Jakes tells his story in an informal style: covering the ins and outs of Japanese life as a slave to the Japanese workforce, the drinking parties, the drugs, the sex, the violence and the effect it had on his marriage.
The book is amazingly well written, loaded with dark humor and self-reflection. It leaves you with no question up until when you finished the book. That is where you ask yourself wether Jake has the balls of an elephant, a peanut instead of a brain, or perhaps both. If you want to know what goes on in Japan in perhaps the most intriguing world, that of the Yakuza, Tokyo Vice cannot be skipped.