Several years ago as I was taking a taxi to work, the taxi driver took a shortcut down a small side street through an old neighborhood. When we rounded a corner, we were met by about 50 men dressed in suits lining both sides of the street and making deep bows. The taxi driver stopped behind a large black car with tinted windows that was sitting on the street in front of a house.

"What's going on?" I asked the taxi driver.

"Oh, a prominent yakuza member has just been released from jail. They're welcoming him back home," he said casually, as if he had heard this information on the morning news along with the weather forecast.