not so safe in japan

Posted on Mar. 2, 2010 by geoffropuff

japan has the reputation of being an extremely safe country.  i’m not here to tell you that this is a wrong assumption but that even in safe countries, you should be careful.

be careful

this past week, i lost my wallet.  there’s two different situations that could have happened: 1) i dropped it and someone else picked it up 2) i was pickpocketed as i entered the train.  i first thought that it was situation #1 but i make it a habit to look at the ground where i’ve been standing or seats where i’ve been sitting to see if i dropped anything.  call me paranoid, but apparently it didn’t work.

paranoid bunny

if you've never had a pet bunny, they really are this paranoid. mine kicked me in the face.

there was a 7 minute window that i lost it: i arrived at toyoshiki train station at 8:12 for an 8:14 train.  my train leaves toyoshiki at 8:14 and arrives at kashiwa station at 8:17.  i realized my wallet wasn’t in my pocket as i was exiting the train, so i stay on the train for 8 minutes until it returns to toyoshiki.  no wallet.  this short time span, paired with my paranoia, makes me think i was pickpocketed.

lost wallet

because of japan's reputation, i really thought i would get it back.

i didn’t lose much money but losing my foreigners registration card, bank card, health insurance card, credit card, etc. is very inconvenient.  in the long run, though, i’m lucky because i was able to cancel everything before my identity was stolen. also, my personal safety was not compromised.

safe raccoon

safe raccoon says, "safe!"

however, sometimes people’s personal safety in japan IS compromised, and many times that is due to yakuza.  yakuza are japanese mafia members that are often glorified. they’re portrayed as folk heroes, as modern day samurai, in movies and tv shows. their tattoos are elaborate and, often, seen as works of art.

shoko tendo tattoos covered

shoko tendo, daughter of a yakuza, looks like a normal japanese person.

shoko tendo tattoo

but as the daughter of a yakuza, she's branded with tattoos like all yakuza members.

however, i just read a book, “tokyo vice,” that describes what kinds of violence and thuggery the yakuza are involved in.  jake adelstein was an american reporter in japan that worked on the police beat, so he witnessed these things first hand.  long story short, you NEVER want to get involved with yakuza in any capacity.  adelstein also has a website that gives updates on his work beyond the book.

tokyo vice

i HIGHLY recommend you read this book.

the point of this post is to remind everyone that no matter how “safe” you are, you can never be too careful.  Ki wo tsukete (take care)!

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2 Responses to “not so safe in japan”

  1. Brother Bear-

    Have you read Tendo’s book? It’s Yakuza Moon. I have it if you want to read it. It’s a little graphic but it’s a book about growing up the daughter of a Yakuza boss.


    your favorite sister

  2. i wanted to read it but they don’t have it on the kindle app. so sad.



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