Yubitsume – Finger Cutting

This is a topic I have visited a few times, but this is a little refresher.

Ashley May - "Golden Week"

Photo By Nesnad – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53953864

One trait of yakuza that is frequently showcased in movies and other media, is the act of cutting off a fingertip to repent for a wrongdoing.  This practice is called “yubitsume”, or “finger shortening”.

The supposed roots of yubitsume trace back to era of itinerant gamblers called “bakuto”, who are considered to be predecessors of the yakuza.  If a gambler were unable to pay back his debts, cutting off the tip of the pinky finger was sometimes considered a way to make amends.  Another theory is that the pinky is required to grip a sword properly, and by weakening someone’s ability to fight or defend themselves, it ensured their dependence on their gang for protection.

Today, yubitsume is used to repent for an offense made.  Depending on the gravity of the issue, the fingertip may be cut, or all the way up to…

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