Prosthetics maker does a roaring trade in replacement pinkies for ex-yakuza

Shintaro Hayashi, a Tokyo prosthetics maker, spent most of this life making medical prostheses for people who'd lost breasts, limbs, etc, but now does a booming trade in fake pinkie fingers for ex-yakuza gangsters who don't want to broadcast their criminal past (yakuza members who screw up have their pinkies lopped off in retaliation).

The doctor molds silicone prosthetic pinkies, made to seamlessly mask the amputation, making for a smoother transition to the outside world. Priced at nearly $3,000 each, the fingers are carefully painted, to match the exact skin color of the client. Former yakuza members, who make up 5 percent of Hayashi's business, often keep several sets of fingers for different seasons – the light skinned version for winter, and a tanned look for summer.

Hayashi sums up his clientele in three categories: Those who are dragged into his office by girlfriends worried about their reputations, ex-members who are eager to move up the corporate ladder but worried about the repercussions of their past being exposed, longtime yakuza who have no intention of getting out, but need to cover up for a child's wedding or grandchild's sporting event.

"Many people keep a fist, to prevent detection," he said. "But there comes a point where you can't hide your fingers any longer. Some people have one joint severed, others have worse," he said.

Prosthetic Fingers Help Reform Japan's Feared Yakuza Gangsters [Akiko Fujita/ABC]



    1.  Horse-before=cart, I’m afraid. Gibson drew inspiration from Japan, not the other way around.

    1. If the answer turns out to be ‘denture adhesive’, I suspect that there are some slightly confused pharmacy clerks in Japan…

  1. Not to split hairs or anything; but it’s not that you get your pinky chopped off, it’s that you are expected to chop your own pinky off.  

    1.  Indeed, it’s illegal under the Anti Violent Groups Countermeasure Law to request or force someone to chop their finger off, as missing digits are seen to be a major obstacle preventing yakuza from leaving their organisation and re-integrating into society. If you choose to chop your own finger off, however, there’s not much the police can do about it…

      1. I like how there’s a special, Yakuza-focused law. Not just ‘don’t chop, or force people to chop their fingers off in general’ law.

        1.  Well, yeh, it would normally fall under assault/gbh laws, but the purpose of the anti-yakuza law is to make higher-ups in the organisation responsible for the actions of their subordinates in an effort to curb some of their more flagrant law-breaking.

    2.  Also, it’s often not seen as a punishment, but as a way for the member to show sincerity in seeking forgiveness for the error. The High-end Edo-era prostitutes apparently used to do variations of the same thing to show loyalty to the men who they hopes would buy out their contracts and marry them. (I believe the Yakuza borrowed the practice from them, but I’m not sure about that link)

      1.  It is of course quite difficult to prove a direct link but the sentiment is much the same; prostitutes cut off their little fingers so as to effectively mark themselves as someone’s property and thereby lose their livelihood, while in the yakuza the symbolism is that, as your left pinky is the main finger you grip a katana with, there is an implied appeal to the protection of your gang as you are now no longer able to effectively wield a sword.

  2. Today I learned:
     Yubitsume (指詰め?, “finger shortening”) is a Japanese ritual to atone for offenses to another, a way to be punished or to show sincere apology to another, by means of amputating portions of one’s own little finger. It is almost exclusively performed by the Yakuza,

  3. Because they’ve been ‘cut off’ from polite society! Get it? ‘Cut off’….. um… nevermind.

  4. I wonder how many of those guys do the “watch me take off my finger!” trick to impress their grandchildren.

  5. I lost my pinky when I screwed up at my job trying to fix a pallet jack for the notorious Kansas City charity racket Crosslines Food Pantry.  Life is tough for a volunteer gangster.
    Are these available in light skinned caucasian tones?  Please say it’s so, Mr. Hayashi, and make my thug life dreams come true!

    1.  Lots. The automatic assumption is yakuza membership. The same for some types of facial scars.

       Also, tattoos, but freak tattooing accidents are somewhat rarer.

      1. I thought that the fire brigade also went in for tattooing in Japan; but maybe that just tells us something about their fire brigade.

      2.  My father died in a freak tattooing accident, you insensitive… oh, wait, sorry.  Wrong site.

    2.  My father worked for ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia for a few years, and quickly learned to wear long-sleeved shirts no matter how hot it was- the automatic assumption over there is that tattoos = former convict (he got his in the Navy).

  6. Japan Anecdote time! My friend “K” who is a bartender here lost it in an accident at a plating factory. Now he works as a chef at a dining bar. The staff used to joke to folks, “he has a kind demeanor, but please, let’s not ask him about his past.” Later, he would often come by and make a point to ask folks about their meals. That sort of thing is a little thrill for people inside and outside the joke I guess.

    We used to try and think up things he could hack into it – like a lighter, screwdriver… or a tiny unicycle…

  7. You’d have to get a few of them, or never spend any time in the sun.

    “Bag ‘o pinkies’!

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