In Japanese, ヤンキー (yankee) means “loutish youths”, usually at the age of between 13 and 18. You may think of them as the Japanese counterpart of “chav” or “yob” in the UK. Basically, they are often seen in rural areas of Japan such as Ibaraki or Okinawa Prefecture, rather than in big cities like Tokyo. They are typified by their loutish behaviour and unique appearance, including dyed blonde hair and modified school uniforms/long jackets which are embroidered with kanji characters of their group names and/or mottos. They have a penchant for provoking or intimidating others for no reason, and some of them extort money from their kohai, younger students in the same school. The extortion done by yankee or gangsters is called “カツアゲ (katsuage)” in Japanese.
Meaning of 夜露死苦 (Yoroshiku)
A couple of decades ago, it was once a trend among yankees to write some Japanese or even English words and phrases in improper kanji characters. One of the most famous ones is “夜露死苦” for “よろしく”, and another interesting example is 愛羅武勇, which reads and means “I love you” (愛 羅 武 勇). They invented those kanji words because kanji can look cooler than hiragana or katakana; for instance, 猫 (“cat”) is often written in hiragana “ねこ” or katakana “ネコ” to stress their cuteness.
In fact, there are other ways of saying よろしく; see
Synonyms: 不良 and DQN
Both 不良 (ふりょう) and DQN (ドキュン) are synonyms of ヤンキー. “不良” literally means “not good” and indicates juvenile delinquents/loutish students. 不良 and ヤンキー denote the same kind of people , but 不良 sounds more modern while ヤンキー sounds a bit old-fashioned and is often associated with students who ride noisy motorbikes with illegal exhausts in the countryside.
DQN, on the other hand, was coined as Internet slang and contains much more mocking tones. As of 2021, the term has been getting out of date.
Related Word ヤンキー座り (Asian Squat)
ヤンキー座り literally means “Yankee sitting” and actually means so-called “Asian squat”. This is because, ヤンキー often do this in front of a convenience store, smoking cigarettes and glaring at passersby. Some people make fun of their sitting style as “うんこ座り” meaning “sh*t sitting” because it resembles how you take a sh*t at 和式 (washiki) toilet, a traditional Japanese-style toilet.
I was approached by female louts at the park and it was so scary.
I feel really ashamed of having a loutish son.
Being influenced by Yutaka Ozaki, a great number of juvenile delinquents stole motorbikes and broke windows at schools.
尾崎豊 is a very famous Japanese singer who has released many songs that embody rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. It is said that when he was very popular, a great number of 不良/ヤンキー imitated the behaviour written in the lyrics of his songs, which includes stealing bikes and breaking windows at school. Unfortunately, he died of a drug overdose at the age of 26 in 1992.
Synonyms: 不良, DOQ (loutish students, juvenile delinquents)
Synonyms in English: loutish students, chav, yob, lout
Related words and phrases: 座る (sit)