The Japanese Yakuza has always lent itself perfectly for visually stunning movies and anime comics. The broad-shouldered gangsters wearing expensive suits and sporting intimidating looks at any outsider who dares to cross an invisible red line. Yet, it is without their suits that the Yakuza members truly become a visual menace. Though they are undressed, they still wear a suit. One that is tattooed on their skin. From top to bottom. It is an integral part of their brotherhood.
Belgian photographer Anton Kusters wanted to capture all of this with his photo camera. He writes: “Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, a traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, my brother Malik and I became two of the only westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organized crime.”
“With a mix of photography, film, writing and graphic design, I try to share not only their complex relationship to Japanese society, but also to show the personal struggle of being forced to live in two different worlds at the same time; worlds that often have conflicting morals and values. It turns out not to be a simple ‘black’ versus ‘white’ relationship, but most definitely one with many, many, many shades of grey,” Kusters shares on his blog.
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