What is 8-9-3? Answer: ya-ku-sa, members of the Japanese ‘Underworld’

David Kaplan

David Kaplan

“It was along the Tokaido [first highway running from the ancient capital of Kyoto to Tokyo] and other highways that the gamblers first began using the word yakuza.  According to the most widely held belief, the term derives from the worst possible score in the card game hanafuda (flower cards).  Three cards are dealt per player in the game, and the last digit of their total counts as the number of the hand; therefore, with a hand of 20―the worst score―one’s total is zero.  Among the losing combinations: a sequence of 8-9-3, or in Japanese, ya-ku-sa.” Yakusa, Japan’s Criminal Underworld, Copyright © 2003 by the Center for Investigative Reporting and David E. Kaplan, University of California Press – Berkeley – Los Angeles, Page 13.

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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