Ritualized finger-shortening, or “Yubitsume”, is the ancient tradition of cutting off the end of one’s own pinky finger just above the joint to atone for mistakes. Traditionally this was done on the left hand making it harder for the culprit to wield a katana properly; the ritual was then so eagerly adopted by the Japanese mafia that ex-mafia members have an incredibly hard time re-integrating into society due to the stigma against their obvious deformity.
Meet Yukako Fukushima, a prosthetics maker, who has made hundreds of fake pinkies over the past decade for ex-yakuza members looking to escape their gang-related past and find regular jobs. Fukushima’s fingers cost an average of 180,000 yen ($1,594), but she provides many of the ex-yakuza members who are in dire financial straits. She makes regular prosthetics as well, but the story of the men who come in seeking her specialized talents is one you won’t soon forget.