The Ritual the Japanese Perform To Sincerely Apologize

We’ve all done things that we regret, and perhaps we’ve had to offer an apology to someone we’ve offended. However, when was the last time you cut off your little finger to show just how sorry you really were? In Japan, this is a ritual called yubitsume — “finger shortening.” To the Japanese, it’s a ritual they perform to atone for offenses to another, a way to be punished or show sincere remorse to another. The ritual is thought to have originated with the bakuto — gamblers and predecessors of the modern yakuza (organized crime syndicate). If a person was unable to pay off a gambling debt, yubitsume was sometimes considered as an alternative form of repayment. In Japanese swordsmanship, the little finger’s grip is the tightest on the hilt. A little finger amputee was, therefore, unable to grip his sword properly, weakening him in battle and making him more dependent on the protection of his boss. It’s also a sign of surrender by the defeated in a Mafia war. To perform yubitsume, one lays down a small clean cloth and lays the hand onto the cloth facing down. Using an extremely sharp knife, the person cuts off the portion of his left little finger above the top knuckle on the finger or the tip of the finger. He then wraps the severed portion in the cloth and submits the “package” very graciously to the person he has offended.