Yukako Fukushima, is a women who makes prosthetic small fingers for reformed Japanese gangsters, at her workshop in Osaka, Japan. Yukako Fukushima crafts lifelike pinkies to help yakuza criminals who severed fingers as a mark of contrition begin a new life.
She started making pinkie for the gangsters who have sliced off their pinkies in a ritual show of contrition, and who owe their exit from the underworld and return to mainstream society to Fukushima’s prosthetics. Her decision to continue producing artificial pinkies for reformed mobsters resulted in the breakup of a relationship and criticism from her family for “enabling” gangsters.
Fukushima will only agree to make a pinkie, which can cost more than £1,500, under certain conditions.Drawing on around 20 colours,she can create more than 1,000 skin tones to ensure that the fake digit looks exactly the same as its owner’s other fingers.Every last detail, down to fingerprints, curvature, nails and veins, is expertly reproduced in silicone. The fake tip, which lasts five to 10 years, slides on to the existing stub much like a lid on to a pen.
Fukushima’s artificial finger tips, like the other body parts she makes for people who have been in accidents or suffered serious illness, are the products of incredible attention to detail.
A group set up by the Osaka prefectural police to help rehabilitate former yakuza introduces her to potential clients after confirming that they have decided to go straight.“I need proof that they have definitely left their gang, and I won’t accept extra cash from people who want to jump the queue,” said Fukushima.
While a new pinkie is no guarantee that a gangster will change his ways, Fukushima receives enough letters of thanks to convince her that her digits make a difference. “I hear from men who have got married and had children or found a job. Others tell me they have straightened themselves out and apologised to their parents for the years of misery they put them through,” she said.
“Some tell me they’re simply glad to be alive, even though there were times when they’d wished they were dead. When I hear stories like that it motivates me to carry on. I’m not doing this as a service for the yakuza. I’m doing it for men who want a second chance and to be good role models for their children.”