Born to a wealthy and powerful yakuza boss, Shoko Tendo lived the early years of her life in luxury. However, when she was six, everything changed: her father was jailed, and the family fell into debt. Bullied by her classmates because of her father's activities, and terrorized at home by her father, who became a drunken, violent monster after his release from prison, Tendo rebelled. As a teenager she became a drug addict and a member of a girl gang. At the age of 15 she spent eight months in a juvenile detention center after getting into a fight with another gang.
During Japan's bubble economy of the eighties, Tendo worked as a bar hostess, attracting many rich and loyal customers, and earning money to help her family out of debt. But there were also abusive clients, one of whom beat her so badly that her face was left permanently scarred. Her mother died, plunging Tendo into a depression so deep that she tried to commit suicide.
Somehow, Tendo overcame these tough times. A turning point was getting a full-body tattoo with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, an act that empowered her to change her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at work, she looked up at the full moon, which became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book she wrote as an epitaph for herself and her family.
The paperback edition of Yakuza Moon features 16-pages of never-before-seen photos of Tendos youth, family, and tattoos, as well as a new foreword by the author, describing her life since the book was first published four years ago.
"Emotionally complex and thoroughly heart-rending, this book is recommended for anyone searching for a more thorough and personal understanding of Japanese society. Publishers Weekly
"The first female ever to break the code of silence and speak about life for women in the underworld...her best-selling memoir shocked [Japan]...with its graphic accounts of her addictions to sex, drugs and violent lovers. Marie Claire
[Tendos] story...shines a light into a dark and little understood corner of modern Japan." The Guardian
"The book offers a rare woman's view of Japan's criminal underbelly. The Independent
"Much has been written about Japan's gangsterstheir full-body tattoos, boozing, womanizing, strict honor codes and occasional explosions of violence. Very little has been heard from their lovers, daughters or wives. Tendo has been all three." Bloomberg
"A chilling and tawdry tale about family life and romance among the yakuza. The Wall Street Journal
"A raw, heartbreaking account of damaged youth." Bust
"A thrilling memoir...an exclusive glimpse into a life rarely experienced firsthand." Time Out Chicago
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From Publishers Weekly:
Yakuza Moon is Shoko Tendo's first book and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Tendo lives in Tokyo with her baby daughter and works as a freelance writer.
Tendo, the daughter of a yakuza (mob) boss, grew up in 1970s and '80s Japan, living through the booms and busts of life on the wrong side of the law. Her first published work, Shoko uses unpracticed but appropriately blunt prose to memoir her exceedingly arduous life; readers will appreciate her restrained but powerful details, especially during some of the harsher scenes. From age 12 onwards, Shoko's life was enveloped in drug addiction, poverty, psychological and sexual abuse, miscarriage, attempted suicide and the deaths of many close family members, set against a backdrop of Japan's ultra-secretive yakuza society. Admiration and a detached style keep Tendo from exploring any resentment she might harbor toward her criminal father, which may prove off-putting for some, but feels entirely honest given the emotional trauma Tendo suffers, and is as revealing for what it includes as for what it doesn't. Emotionally complex and thoroughly heart-rending, this book is recommended for anyone searching for a more thorough and personal understanding of Japanese society, and its darker corners, than is offered by more popular Japanese imports (movies, comic books) featuring similar subject matter.
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