Finding normalcy does not come easy for former yakuza members, who face social stigma and significant legal barriers. Some government programs offer financial support as members transition from mob life, but many doors remain closed.

Noodle chef Takashi Nakamoto moves so deftly as he boils, strains and arranges his signature plates of udon that it’s easy to overlook the brutal reminder of his former life: his missing left pinkie.

Over three decades, Nakamoto rose through the ranks of the Kudo-kai, a violent syndicate of the once-powerful yakuza, a Japanese criminal network whose membership has been chipped away by more-aggressive law enforcement.

That effort has also led to a greater number of defectors like Nakamoto, who are trying to reinvent themselves after a life within the family-like hierarchies of the yakuza, ruled by a strict code of loyalty. Members are often conspicuous, with full-body tattoos and pinkies amputated by the mob as punishment for wrongdoing.

Finding normalcy does not come easy for former yakuza members, who face social stigma and significant legal barriers. Some government programs offer financial support as members transition from mob life, but many doors remain closed, the Washington Post reports.

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