Photographer Anton Kuster‘s project YAKUZA is a personal visual account of the life inside an inaccessible subculture: a traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, his brother Malik and he became one of the only westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organized crime. All images © Anton Kusters – www.antonkusters.com
(photo by Nesnad is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)
“Sleeping with the fishes” is an age-old idiom associated with the mob as a punishment for serious offenders of their code of honor. The phrase actually dates back to ancient Greece, being first referenced in The Iliad. It’s not the only retribution the mob carries out, though. In Japan, the mob is called the yakuza. When the yakuza wants to penalize an offending member – but not fatally – one permanent and still painful punishment is yubitsume.
Around 11 PM on August 21, 1955, eight people showed up at the Hopkinsville, Kentucky police station in a state of panic. “We need help,” one gasped. “We’ve been fighting them for nearly four hours.” They quickly explained that the “them” were aliens — creatures with glowing yellow eyes, silvery skin, and long arms who had swooped in from out of the sky. While it may have sounded outlandish, multiple witnesses soon corroborated the story.
On the evening of August 21, 1955, five adults and seven children arrived at the Hopkinsville police station claiming that small alien creatures from a spaceship were attacking their farmhouse and they had been holding them off with gunfire "for nearly four hours". Two of the adults, Elmer Sutton and Billy Ray Taylor, claimed they had been shooting at "twelve to fifteen" short, dark figures who repeatedly popped up at the doorway or peered into the windows.
I spent too much time reading books about how to budget/exercise/make friends the “right way.” I had a twisted view that once I learned enough things I would suddenly be happy, like happiness is a prize you get for checking enough boxes on some invisible list.
That shit doesn’t work. Now I’m just older, with more grey hair, and I spent 5 years as a stressed out, insecure, neurotic workaholic collecting unrelated skills instead of creating happy memories.
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I remember the simultaneous high and pain of being hungry and light-headed. One can of diet Pepsi, one loaf of bread on my better days. Peruse obsessively through foodie magazines, as if looking was eating—without the calories. Whenever my mother left the house to go shop or run an errand, I ran to my closet, dug out my backpack, filled it with gallons of spring water, and—when the pack was full—grasped the handle of a gallon in each hand and ran or lifted. I biked. I took 2 hour aerobic classes and returned home for 2 more hours of surreptitious stair-climbing as my parents watched television downstairs. I got up in the middle of the night to pace the bedroom or stand on tiptoe. I sat on the edge of the seat—determined not to relax and let my fat recline and absorb into my body. Before I knew it, the only thing I was doing in my life was starving and exercising.