Yakuza Snack Club

Redemption is one of life’s great gifts. And the story of former Yakuza toughie Tatsuya Shindo, who runs a Japanese “snack” club called June Bride, is among the better examples I’ve heard of it:

June Bride’s proprietor is Tatsuya Shindo, and he is not a barman. From the age of 20, Shindo peddled stimulants in and around Tokyo for a gangster family under the nationwide Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza syndicate. After several stints in jail, he decided to start offering something else entirely: the gospel.

Tatsuya Shindo

“I know how bad I was and the bad things I have done,” says Shindo, 39, thin-framed and sporting a devilish bit of chin stubble. “At the same time, I know how much I was forgiven by God. So I wanted to engage myself in God’s work.”

Now, inside this converted bar, the former gangster presides over the Friends of Sinners Jesus Christ Church, where he takes the pulpit and preaches to former troublemakers on the mend. “They are seeking divine intervention,” says Shindo, a Kawaguchi native, of his congregants. “They want God to help them with their problems.”

I suppose the cynic would look askew at Tatsuya. So be it. He need not care.