Typecast: 1962 Swissa Junior

Such a stylish emblem!
The story continues after a few images:
Full glory, with the handsome little suitcase behind it.
Hey, that’s the same Wilhelm Tell crossbow as the one embossed on my Hermes 2000
And a couple of more images:
The Untangle Key on the right. You can see this is a Dutch keyboard, it has an ij key.
Couldn’t find the serial number until I shone a bright light through the keyboard. The first two digits of a seven-digit Swissa serial number give the year of production, so mine is from 1962.
For some reason, whenever I link a blog post, it selects the last picture in the post as the main picture and I think this picture is more interesting than the serial number picture…

WRITING: ‘What the hell is a blurb?’ or pitching your book

From a discussion on writing blurbs (also known as the pitch), I’d like to share some of my ideas on a ‘formula’ for writing a pitch.

The difficulty with writing a pitch is that most novelist have trouble figuring out how to ‘sell’ their book. I’m taking the blurb of my novel Reprobate as an example on how write a pitch:

First things first, the blurb is not a synopsis of the book, but the blurb has to provide incentive for the reader to read the book.

What is also useful if you write the blurb like a pitch, with three different stages:

Stage one, the elevator pitch: Describe your book in one sentence, preferably less than could be spoken in one short breath. For example: Hungry white shark terrorizes beach community. Lone undercover cop battles terrorists in highrise office building.

Stage two, the story pitch: Try to tell, as succinctly as possible, what happens in the first part of the book that sets up what will happen next.

Stage three, the promise: This book is X genre and part of a series. The author is a gynecologist and therefore qualified to write about this subject. This book is highly recommended for easily excitable readers with short attention spans.

If your three stages work well, the first stage poses a question that is answered in the second stage with another question that is explained in the third stage.

My ABNA pitch (in 2010) for Reprobate was:

REPROBATE is the first novel in a series featuring female commercial assassin Katla Sieltjes, a specialist in making homicide appear as ‘deaths without suspicious circumstances’. The setting of the story is the Netherlands, in particular Amsterdam.

Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience Katla Sieltjes views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her alias Loki, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with principals through electronic means, all to protect her identity.

Resigned to remain single for the duration of her career Katla meets the enigmatic blind musician Bram Merleyn when he enters the gallery where Katla has just killed the owner. Deciding that the blind man won’t make a reliable witness, Katla spares his life. After stalking the blind man to gain information whether he is truly harmless, an opportunity presents itself for a new introduction and Katla becomes intimate with Bram who is unaware of her real occupation. While the relationship between Bram and Katla blossoms and starts to affect both their lives, the suspense mounts to exciting heights as Katla accepts a difficult high-risk assignment from an unreliable principal – not only her possible exposition and fragile relationship with Bram are at stake, but her very life is in peril as Katla scrambles to get back to zero.

Through the developing romance between Katla and Bram, and their interaction with a supporting cast of unusual characters, the reader gains insight in the business of a commercial assassin as well as detailed knowledge about the life of session musicians; local information about the famous Dutch capital; the narcotics trade; motorcycle gangs; mehndi bridal tattoos; martial arts; and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.

The strength of REPROBATE lies in authentic details and psychological depth of the characters, mixed with fast-paced action and a realistic plot.

My final description for Reprobate follows my formula, but uses text from the pitch:

Assassin Katla breaks her own rules when confronted with an unusual witness…

Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience, Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her male alter ego Loki, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with clients through electronic means, all to protect her identity. Her solitary existence satisfies her until she meets a blind musician whose failure to notice a ‘closed’ sign causes him to wander in on Katla’s crime scene. And Katla breaks one of her most important rules—never leave a living witness.

Reprobate is the first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Reprobate gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, the narcotics trade, computer hacking, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, the psychology of social engineering, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.

This e-book features a glossary.

You can see the repeated elements. And it’s a lot shorter, because pitches to agents are 150 words max, while ABNA pitches are (were?) 300 words max.

Analyzing your pitch/blurb:

Take the first part of the blurb from Reprobate:

Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience, Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her male alter ego Loki, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with clients through electronic means, all to protect her identity. Her solitary existence satisfies her until she meets a blind musician whose failure to notice a ‘closed’ sign causes him to wander in on Katla’s crime scene. And Katla breaks one of her most important rules—never leave a living witness.

If you analyze this blurb, you see:
Who is the protagonist? Freelance assassin Katla Sieltjes, who considers herself ‘blessed’ by being unburdened by a conscience. So she kills without remorse, which is not a common trait in a protagonist.
What does the protagonist do (what is the status quo? She lives a solitary life, apparently enjoys killing for profit, and takes great pains to remain anonymous
What is the conflict that changes the status quo? A blind man walks into her crime scene, and Katla breaks her own rules and spares his life. And Katla becomes dissatisfied with her solitary existence.

That ‘conflict’ happens in the first of fifty chapters. So, you don’t need to ‘tell the whole story’. Just give a reader enough that they may think, ‘hey, this might be interesting’.

The second part of the blurb is:

Reprobate is the first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Reprobate gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, the narcotics trade, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, computer hacking, the art of social engineering, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.

The second part is the ‘promise’. What can the reader expect? The first book in a series (so if they like it, there is more), the heroine is unusual (a remorseless killer is often the antagonist, but rarely the protagonist), and she’s not the only unusual character.
Amsterdam is famous all over the world, but the blurb offers a rare glimpse in the local culture and information on a host of other topics, which may or may not be unknown/interesting to the reader. And it contains brutal violence (so the reader won’t think it’s chick-lit and complain about the violent bits).

What the blurb doesn’t do is tell what happens after Katla breaks her rule. Breaking rules is always a risk, and the reader can figure out that there’ll be consequences. Only, to know the consequences, they’ll have to read the book.

If you apply the analysis to your own blurb, see if you can figure out what you’re telling and what not.

Other articles on writing blurbs:

Four Easy Steps to an Irresistible Book Blurb.

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REVIEW: Looking for Chet Baker: an Evan Horne mystery

Looking for Chet Baker: An Evan Horne MysteryLooking for Chet Baker: An Evan Horne Mystery by Bill Moody

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a Jazz enthusiast, I can appreciate books revolving around Jazz musicians. And since Evan Horne is in my hometown Amsterdam when he’s looking for Chet Baker, that makes it all the more interesting.

I enjoyed Evan’s first person narration, and I know Mr. Moody is a musician himself by the way he can write interestingly about performances and the life of musicians.

Evan is visited by his friend Ace in London, just before Evan is to depart for Amsterdam. Ace is a writer and needs Evan to help him research a book on Chet Baker, who died in Amsterdam after falling out of a second story hotel window. Evan, who has been burned by his curiosity and his impromptu investigations before, refuses to assist Ace and leaves him to play the reminder of his gigs in London.

Ace departs for Amsterdam, but by the time Evan arrives, Ace has moved out of his hotel and disappeared. When Evan finds Ace’s portfolio on Chet Baker, something he wouldn’t just ‘leave behind’, Evan realizes something is rotten in Amsterdam and goes looking for Ace.

Although as a suspense author myself I figured out the plot pretty soon, it was a joy to follow Evan through Amsterdam. I liked his easy camaraderie with veteran saxophone player Fletcher Paige and Mr. Moody catches the atmosphere and laid-back attitude of Amsterdam pretty good.

For the musical side of the story, Mr. Moody really knows what he’s talking about. The Amsterdam part of the story has some problems though. I know the area Mr. Moody describes pretty good (I live about ten minutes walking from the Zeedijk and the Red Light District) and while many things are accurately described, there were plenty of times where the view was biased towards American sensibilities, the sort of seedy, semi-dangerous Amsterdam foreigner hope to find in a city that’s safer than probably any city in the US.

Apart from having to remind myself time and time again that the book was first published in 2002, and therefore featured landmarks and situations that aren’t there anymore. Jazzclub Bimhuis moved in 2005 to its current location on the Piet Heinkade and you cannot find a payphone in Amsterdam (everybody has cell phones nowadays). So it was kind of a shock when one of the characters did use a cell phone near the end of the book.

Since the book describes the official Chet Baker memorial, I guess Mr. Moody researched/visited Amsterdam between 1999 when the official memorial plaque was fixed to the front of the Prins Hendrik hotel, and 2002, the first publication date of the book. By that time, the seediness of the Zeedijk was more than a decade in the past.

For those who are interested in the memorial, both the official and the ‘illegal’ Chet Memorial can be viewed on this website.

Some of the Dutch (street) names are flubbed, like a Dutchman called ‘De Hass’ (Hass is German, the Dutch name would be De Haas), and Prins Hendrik is sometimes spelled as Henrik. The descriptions of the coffeeshops seems more like a description of an opium den. Another thing that bugged me was that Mr. Moody used the phrase ‘put him off’ where the phrase should’ve been ‘blew him off’, once in a narrative, once in a letter.

Despite these flaws I enjoyed this story and I’ll probably read more of Mr. Moody’s books, especially if they feature more Amsterdam…

3.5/5 stars.

View all my reviews

KATLA FAQ: Why does Katla prefer sharp implements over firearms?

I received some questions concerning Katla’s preference or inclination toward using sharp implements over firearms. Many readers cite firearms as better killing tools than sharp implements, but there are several reasons why Katla dislikes using firearms as killing tools.
One of these reasons is legal. The Dutch have strict gun control laws, maybe even the most severe in Europe. In the Netherlands, only law enforcement officers and army personnel are allowed to bear small firearms. Some occupations, like game warden, allow a restricted use of occupational firearms, like hunting rifles. That doesn’t mean that civilians aren’t allowed to use firearms, but their use is restricted to recreational or sports, and they are only allowed to transport the guns in a locked case, with the bullets separated from the gun.
Same goes for other weapons, like martial arts practice weapons, that have to be transported in closed bags. Transport of a Japanese sword, for instance, is only allowed if the sageo (cord) secures the blade in the saya (scabbard) and the sheathed sword is carried in one or more bags, to prevent the bearer from quickly drawing the sword. A bokken, or wooden sword, has to be carried in a bag as well. About the only ‘clubs’ that can be carried without the need for concealment, are field hockey sticks. And canes, of course.
Since there have been knife skirmishes where people became seriously hurt, the police will hold ‘preventive searches’ at mobile checkpoints, most often around subway stations, where everyone is scanned with a metal detector and has to empty their pockets. These checkpoints are prevalent at certain areas, mainly around Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein/Thorbeckeplein, Nieuwmarkt, Dam, where the mayor has put a law in effect that restricts possession of anything that can be used as a weapon, not just guns and knives, but also screwdrivers, chisels, chains, hammers, and other tools. Also, regular pocket knives, like the Victorinox ‘Swiss Army’ knife are also prohibited.
So, while getting caught with a firearm is a felony and will get you arrested straight away, possession of a sharp implement will often only result in a fine and seizure of the forbidden implement.
For someone skilled in handling blades, there is no real necessity to carry a machete or kukri blade. Several arteries that are fatal when severed are close enough to the skin to be reached by a blade no longer than the width of a hand. Especially the arteries in the crotch, armpit and neck are vulnerable to a knife attack.
Katla’s assignment often take her up close and personal with her targets. As many professionals will acknowledge, killing someone at arms length is the most difficult and dangerous way to end someone’s life, but it’s also extremely reliable. Any projectile weapon will be less accurate than a handheld blade in the assassin business.
I know that’s a controversial stance to take, and many owners and users of projectile weapons will rally the merits of their weapons, but professional assassins prefer a knife, a garotte or even a rumal* to a gun if they have to kill in close quarters.
Combat/warfare weapons are for the battlefield, not the assassination game. Guns are suitable for shooting your way out of a room full of enemies and an AK-47 is awesome when clearing a building of enemy combatants, but professional assassins are often stealth killers and even a suppressed Ruger Mark II .22 semi-automatic pistol** will make more noise than a well-placed spike dagger.
That’s not to say that projectile weapons are unreliable or inaccurate—any sniper adhering to the ‘one shot, one kill’ principle will protest any such claim—but there are too many people surviving bullet wounds to validate my assertion.
But, what about all the people who survive knife wounds? Of course there are plenty of people who get into altercations with someone wielding a knife and survive the encounter. However, in 99% of these cases, the knife wielder was not out to kill, whereas most people who fire a gun aim to kill. And fail.
Amateurs often favour large caliber handguns that ‘can blow your head straight off’, but there’s a reason why police officers don’t carry Desert Eagles. Heavy and unwieldy guns with absurd recoil don’t make the best guns to kill people. Although they might impress a flock of zombies…
Feel free to comment with your own experience as an assassin to negate my argument…

*Rumal, a silk cord with a coin tied to one end, used by the Thuggee cult of India to whip the cord around a neck and strangle someone.
**Do you want to kill someone silently with a gun? Forget about large calibers. Assassins favour the Ruger Mark II .22 semi-automatic for two reasons: a) the long thin barrel doesn’t need much modification to fit in an ordinary soda bottle that will catch the noise gaseous cloud that follows the bullet out of the barrel, and b), a .22 bullet will have enough penetrative force to get into a skull, but not enough to exit. Which means that the soda bottle will muffle the shot, and the ‘weak’ bullet will careen inside the skull, shredding the brain tissue like whipping a cheesecake with a flogger.

WRITING: Adding A Glossary To The Books?

For reasons of authenticity, many non-English locales, phrases, and names in the Amsterdam Assassin Series are written in their original language. Instead of breaking the words down into Dutch/Japanese/German/Arabic/Jamaican, I merely list these words alphabetically, adding explanations where warranted. If you spot other words that require translation or elaboration, please send me an email so I can include them in this glossary.

Alstublieft (Dutch) – shortened form of ‘Als het u belieft’ meaning, ‘If it pleases you’. Most often used as ‘please’. Informal, asjeblieft. Abbreviated, mostly on signs, AUB.
Ascenseur pour l’Echafaud – (French) Lift to the Scaffold, a movie by Louis Malle with music improvised by Miles Davis.
Atari – (Japanese) Go term, meaning a stone is under attack or immediate threat.
Bien merci – (French) That’s right, thanks. Or, ‘I’m fine, thanks’.
BKA – (German) The Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) is a national investigative police agency in Germany and falls directly under the Federal Ministry of the Interior. As law enforcement in Germany is vested in the states, the BKA only becomes involved in cases of international organised crime or when requested by the respective federal state authorities or the federal minister of the interior. The federal prosecutor can also direct it to investigate cases of special public interest.
Cartucho, El – (Spanish) The Bullet, a neighbourhood in Bogotá, Colombia, which was destroyed and replaced by a park. At its time, one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in the world during its time, it is now a new part of downtown Bogotá filled with drug addicts and the poverty stricken.
Ça va? – (French) How are you? Response ‘Ça va bien’, it goes well or I’m good.
Chaud – (French) Hot. Trop Chaud = Too Hot.
Chèrie – (French) darling (only used to women). Chèr means ‘expensive’, and if expressed by a man to another man ‘mon chèr’ means ‘my good man’.
Chotto matte kudasai – (Japanese) Please wait a second, also used as ‘hold the line for a moment’.
Cochon – (French) pig.
Dank u wel – (Dutch) thank you very much. Often dankuwel, thankyouverymuch.
DEA – (US) Abbreviation of Drug Enforcement Administration, a federal body mostly specializing in the enforcement of drug laws and persecuting drug crime.
Diu! – (Cantonese) Vulgar expression of dissatisfaction or shock.
Diu nei! – (Cantonese) More vulgar expression of dissatisfaction or shock
Diu nei lou mou! – (Cantonese) Incredibly vulgar expression of dissatisfaction or shock.
Eikel (Dutch slang) – Jerk. Literal translation ‘glans’, the tip of the penis that is shaped like an acorn, which is also called ‘eikel’ in Dutch.
Engelbewaarder (Dutch) – Guardian angel. Name of a jazz cafe on the Kloveniersburgwal.
Fuseki – (Japanese) Go term, the opening moves before the first clashes.
Gaijin/Gaikokujin – (Japanese) Gaijin means ‘strange person’, but is commonly used for ’stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, i.e. any non-Japanese person. The polite word for ‘foreigner’ or non-Japanese person is ‘gaikokujin’.
Gau! – (Cantonese) Vulgar expression of disappointment.
Geld – (Dutch) money
Godverdomme – (Dutch) Goddamn
Graag gedaan – (Dutch) literal ‘Happy to have done it’, similar to ‘You’re welcome’.
Gracht – (Dutch) originally a gracht is the moat around a castle or city, but it’s mostly translated as canal, which can cause confusion as Dutch also has the word ‘kanaal’ which means a (man-made) waterway that’s mainly straight as a ruler. Other waterways are ‘sloot’, a shallow waterway often used to separate meadows from the road and each other, ‘poel’, a natural pool, ‘meer’, a lake, and ‘rivier’, river. Grachten are flanked by ‘kades’ or quays, which are named after the waterway. So riding along the Prinsengracht would consist of riding down the quay flanking the Prince’s Canal. As the quays flanking the grachten are narrow, they’re mostly one-way, with the inner ring heading east to west, and the outer ring west to east. If you need to be at a certain address in the middle of a block, you might have to drive past it on the inner ring, cross the canal by the first bridge and drive back along the other quay to reach your destination. In some cases, the gracht has been filled to make a road, which process is called ‘dempen’, so a ‘gedempte gracht’ is a former canal, now filled up. A ‘burgwal’ is a moat that used to be part of the defense works of Amsterdam. The most famous ‘burgwallen’ are those of the Red Light District: Oudezijds Voorburgwal (Old Side Front Defense Quay), Oudezijds Achterburgwal (Old Side Rear Defense Quay), and the Kloveniersburgwal, which is untranslatable (the ‘kloveniers’ were part of the ‘schutterij’ (militia), who used a rifle called a ‘klovenier’).
Hai – (Japanese) ‘yes’ or ‘affirmative’ or ‘please’.
Hanami – (Japanese) ‘flower viewing’, a custom in Japan to watch the ‘sakura’ (cherry blossom) as they fall like snow in May.
Henna – coloured powder, mixed into a paste. Used to colour hair or adorn the skin. From Arabic ḥinnā.
(Dienst) IPOL – (Dutch) A division within the Korps Landelijke Politie Diensten (KLPD) concerned with gathering information for law enforcement purposes, counter-terrorism coordination and liaising with foreign law enforcement. Similar to MI-5 or Homeland Security’s ICE division.
Joseki – (Japanese) Go term, meaning ‘set pattern’.
Kanji – (Japanese) Japanese script, drawn with brush strokes. Katakana are symbols used to transcribe foreign sounds/names, for instance ma-ru-te-y-n for Martyn. Hiragana and Hentaigana are more intricate and used for Japanese sounds, names and concepts.
Kampai – (Japanese) drinking toast, akin to ‘your (good) health’.
Kankyuto – (Japanese) “sword to pierce head”, small double edged blade used to prop up severed heads for formal viewing. They can occasionally be found in the saya (sheath) in place of a kozuka (utility knife).
Katagi – (Japanese) Useful person, contributing to society. See ‘Yakuza’.
Katana – (Japanese) curved Japanese sword.
Kimono – (Japanese) Kimono (literary ‘thing to wear’) are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial), and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimono are generally worn with traditional footwear (zori or geta) and split-toe socks called tabi.
Klootzak – although often translated as ‘asshole’, the literal translation of klootzak is ‘scrotum’ or ‘ballsack’.
Madame – (French) Mrs. A married woman.
Mademoiselle – (French) Ms. An unmarried woman or girl.
Mehndi – temporary tattoos made with henna, from Sanskrit mendhikā. Mehndi is a ceremonial art form which originated in ancient India. Intricate patterns of mehndi are typically applied to brides before the wedding ceremonies.
Mi Vida Loca – (Spanish) My Crazy Life. Often denoted by three tattoed dots in the web between the thumb and the index finger, meaning someone is in the criminal life.
Mozambique Drill – (shooting technique) A close-quarter shooting technique in which the shooter quickly fires twice (double tap) into the torso (center mass) of a target and follows up with a carefully aimed shot to the head of the target. The third shot should be aimed to destroy the brain or brain stem, killing the target and preventing the target from retaliating.
Mou lei tau – (Cantonese) makes no sense, non-sensical, crap.
Naggacha – (Arab) also spelled Nakacha. A (female) artist specialising in mehndi or henna tattoos, mostly for bridal purposes.
Nani? – (Japanese) Informal phrase meaning ‘What?’. Although it sounds rude, it’s the most common phrase people say when answering the phone or intercom, but also to express confusion ‘I beg your pardon?’.
Ohayo – (Japanese) Informal phrase meaning ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’.
Oshibori – (Japanese) a hot damp rolled-up towel to clean your hands and face prior to a meal.
Oyabun – (Japanese) Literally, ‘Father’, the Oyabun is the head of a Yakuza family, similar to a Mafia Don.
Peccadillo – (Latin) a minor sin or character flaw.
Petit – (French) Little or little one. Feminine form Petite.
Quintain – (archaic) Medieval jousting training equipment, consisting of a revolving cross figure on a stick, with a shield on one arm of the crosspiece and a bag of sand swinging from the other. The goal was to strike the shield accurately to avoid being hit by the heavy bag of sand when the quintain would revolve around the stick.
Reprobate – (Latin) an unrepented sinner, a morally unprincipled person.
Seppuku – (Japanese) Ritual suicide by slicing open the abdomen with a wakizashi or katana. Often ignorantly called ‘hara-kiri’ (cutting the belly), seppuku is the deepest apology a male samurai can make to his lord for failure. Since the samurai’s life belongs to his lord, the right to commit seppuku has to be granted by the lord. The lord can also prefer for the samurai to atone in another way, like yubitsume.
Shiatsu – (Japanese) Acupressure massage. A form of massage therapy where points on the body are pressed with the thumbs, fingers and elbows. In Japan many blind people become shiatsu therapists because touch is much more important than vision in the practice.
Sodemieter op! – (Dutch slang) similar to ‘fuck off’.
Steeg – (Dutch) an alley, often narrow. Other roads are ‘snelweg’, motorway or highway, ‘weg’, roads intended for vehicles, ‘straat’, streets intended for traffic to the houses flanking it, ‘dwarsstraat’ is a sidestreet often perpendicular on the main street, and ‘laan’ or lane, which are mostly straight and flanked by trees. Steeg, while already narrow, has a diminishing version, ‘steegje’, meaning small alley. Stegen and steegjes are found most often in the old city quarters built for pedestrian traffic.
Sumimasen – (Japanese) Formal apology to a superior.
Tabi – (Japanese) A cross between a sock and a slipper, often blue or white with a thick cotton or thin leather sole. The big toe is separated from the other toes to allow the tabi to be worn in Japanese wooden clogs called geta or wooden slippers called zori.
Trut – (Dutch slang) means frigid bitch. A ‘Teef’ is a female dog or ‘bitch’, and also used as a curse word.
Wakizashi – (Japanese) a short sword, part of a set of two swords, one long ‘katana’ and a short ‘wakizashi’. A wakizashi is longer than a knife ‘tanto’, but not as long and cumbersome in wielding as the katana. Katana are generally wielded two-handed, a wakizashi is handled with one hand. Inside domiciles and narrow spaces, a wakizashi is preferable to the katana. Both katana and wakizashi are sheathed in a scabbard of lacquered wood called saya, and have guards between the handle and the blade called tsuba, although the tsuba of the wakizashi are proportionally smaller. A tanto, or knife, has a saya, but no tsuba.
Waribashi – (Japanese) bamboo chopsticks for single use.
Yakuza – (Japanese) Japanese gangster. The name derives from ya-ku-za or 8-9-3, the losing hand in oicho-kabu, a Japanese game similar to blackjack. Yakuza consider themselves ‘useless’ and they prey on the katagi or ‘useful’ members of society.
Yubitsume – (Japanese) the ritual ‘finger-cutting’ for atonement. Once a ritual specifically for samurai to atone for failure or sins without the right to commit ritual suicide or seppuku, cutting off the little finger of the right hand actually makes wielding a sword more difficult, because the sword is mainly gripped with the little fingers. The practice was adopted by the Yakuza, who are mainly associated with the practice. Some Yakuza display their shortened fingers proudly, others wear prosthetics in public.
Yukata – (Japanese) unlined casual summer kimono.

This post is updated regularly, so check back!