In their exhaustive study of Yakuza culture, Kaplan and Dubro discuss the provenance of the gang culture. They betray skepticism as to the popular notion that Yakuza are descendants of the Samurai. Instead, they suggest two separate sources:
- Tekiya, peddlers. They travel. They're rootless. They aren't subject to the kind of surveillance you would get from the home folks in a traditional village society. Not incidentally, the tekiya tended to attract alsop some of the barukumin, leather-workers and the tenders of dead bodies--outcastes, really, people who had no place and no future at home.
- Bakuto, gamblers. Think of it this way. You're running an irrigation or construction project out in the middle of nowhere. You have to pay your workers, but it is intolerable that these worthless mugs get to keep all the money. What do you do? Why, you hire "a motley crew of outlaws, laborers, and farmers" to gamble the money away from them. Indeed a plausible folk etymology for the word "yakuza" traces it to the name of the worst possible score in a kind of Japanese blackjack--8-9-3, "ya-ku-sa," totaling 20, a wipe-out, crash-and-burn.