Friday, January 20, 2012

peter hessler | yakuza love

Stories tended to tumble out of Adelstein, full of crazy yakuza details, and today he told a new one. He said that during his period of obsessive research he had conducted an affair with one of Goto’s mistresses. The gangster reportedly kept more than a dozen women in Tokyo and other cities, and Adelstein slept with one who gave him useful information. Eventually, he helped her escape Goto by introducing her to a gay salaryman who needed a wife and was about to be posted overseas. He said that the couple still shared an address in Europe. I asked what the mistress was like.

“We had this lovely conversation once in bed,” Adelstein said. “She said, ‘Do you love me?’ I said, ‘No, but I like you.’ She said, ‘I like you, too. You’re a lot of fun.’ Then she said, ‘Are you sleeping with me to get information about Goto?’ I said, ‘Pretty much. What about you?’ She said, ‘Well, I hate the motherfucker and every time I sleep with you it’s like I’m stabbing him in the face.’ She was into astronomy. Once, we went to a planetarium in Sunshine City. I think that was the only time we ever went out in public together. That was our only date.” He continued, “it was nice. Another time, I gave her a gift — I bought an expensive planetarium set that Sega makes. She cried.”

He lit another cigarette. He had told me once that he didn’t expect to have a long life, but in Tokyo he always seemed happy and full of energy. I liked the image from his story: the odd couple at the planetarium, the Japanese gangster’s mistress and the cross-eyed kid from Missouri, both of them staring up at the stars. I thought about that until we reached the airport and he went off to find some shoes.

from “All Due Respect: An American reporter takes on the yakuza”
by Peter Hessler
The New Yorker, January 9, 2012

The Thomas Gantz 
photo of the Sunshine City planetarium is used by permission