In Ryu ga Gotoku Online, he is the captain of the Arakawa Family, the patriarch of the Sawashiro Family, and a lieutenant of the Omi Alliance.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Sawashiro's face is modeled after his voice actor, Shinichi Tsutsumi. He is tall with a solid build fitting of a skilled martial artist and tan skin.
In his teens and twenties, his short dark brown hair is left unstyled, but it is slicked back from his thirties onwards. In later years, his hair is graying and longer in comparison. His eyes are brown and become clouded with cataracts as he ages. He has a faint scar on the left side of his forehead.
Ryu ga Gotoku Online: Sawashiro is tall, with a lean, muscular build and very pale skin. In his twenties, his unkempt, black shoulder-length hair is worn pulled back with bangs parted in the middle. His eyes are gray.
By 2017, his hair is partially graying and slicked back except for some loose pieces of short gray hair swept to the left of his face. He also has a large forked scar on his face going through his left eye and a smaller scar on his left cheek. There are three scars on his torso; across the right side of his chest, across his stomach, and over his left hip. Additionally, he is missing part of his left ear.
Ryu ga Gotoku Online: Sawashiro's tattoo covers most of his back and ends just above his thighs. It depicts a grinning dragonfish (龍魚, ryūgyo) swimming up a waterfall. It is predominantly white with black-and-white fins and scales, golden eyes, teeth, and horns, and a red underbelly.
A dragonfish is the in-between state of the koi in the legend of a koi that swims up to the top of a waterfall and is rewarded for its tenacity by being transformed into a dragon. The tattoo represents his devotion to Masumi Arakawa, who he views as the 'dragon' he aspires to live up to.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Sawashiro's signature attire between 1993 and 2001 consists of a dark gray suit worn over a violet shirt, a burgundy patterned tie fastened with a gold tie bar, and light brown dress shoes.
By 2019, his attire consists of a dark gray double-breasted crocodile-skin suit worn over a light gray snakeskin waistcoat, a black shirt, a violet and bluish-gray patterned tie, and worn out dark brown dress shoes. The Arakawa Family crest pin always adorns his lapel. He is also sometimes seen wearing black leather gloves.
As a teenager, Sawashiro wears a dark gray bomber jacket over a black sweater, jeans, and black sneakers. In his twenties, he wears a patterned button-up shirt, dark dress pants, and dark brown dress shoes, as well as a necklace with a rectangular black and silver pendant.
Ryu ga Gotoku Online: Sawashiro's signature attire consists of a white suit with light gray snakeskin patterned lapels worn over a black dress shirt, a navy blue paisley patterned tie fastened with a gold tie bar, a dark blue snakeskin belt, and dark brown dress shoes. His more recent appearances add a white pocket square, gold diamond-shaped cufflinks, and an Omi Alliance crest pin adorning his lapel.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Sawashiro is a militant and volatile yakuza who places duty above all else. Ruthless in retaliation to conflict and quick to take the offensive, he represents the Arakawa Family's "dark side." To him, the yakuza is a world of violence where the strong rule the weak.
He is an old-school yakuza in this sense, but as the Arakawa Family's "fervent treasurer," codes of honor come second to the family's advancement in his eyes. A hard worker and harsh disciplinarian, failure to meet his exacting standards is summarily met with verbal and physical abuse. His subordinates fear him as a "boss from hell" and a "demon drill sergeant" for his "conservative, old-fashioned ideas of discipline."
Rather than greed or ambition, he is motivated by a desire to atone for the suffering his actions caused for Masumi and Masato Arakawa. As a reserved individual whose "every word [feels] like it might have something more to it," he has a habit of denial and avoidance instilled by his abusive upbringing. He conceals his inner thoughts and refuses to acknowledge inconvenient truths, even the guilt that drives his actions.[b]
As a result of turning his debt of gratitude and his atonement into his purpose in life, however, Arakawa's death and Masato's loss of faith in him leave him with a bleak outlook on his future and little regard for himself or what happens to him.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Sawashiro was born in 1961 in Kamurocho to unnamed parents. Subjected to physical abuse at home by his father, an alcoholic, he spent most days on the streets of Kamurocho getting into fights. Around 1976, at age fifteen, he left home and moved into a small apartment with Ikumi, a girl who came from a background similar to his.
Sawashiro learned Ikumi was pregnant the same year. Already in a bad financial situation, unable to provide for a child, and knowing it was too late to terminate the pregnancy, they neglected medical care in hopes it would lead to a miscarriage. Even so, while Sawashiro worked road construction on New Year's Eve, Ikumi gave birth to their son.
With no adult guidance at their age, they saw no options left except what their dysfunctional backgrounds had taught them. Anxious to sweep everything under the rug and move on, they decided to abandon their newborn. Sawashiro shut the baby inside coin locker number 0099 at Shinjuku Station.
He and Ikumi got into an argument later that night. Sawashiro wanted to put the whole thing behind them, but Ikumi insisted on going back for the baby. He eventually gave in to Ikumi's change of heart, but when the two returned to the station, they were stunned to see a yakuza force the locker open and leave with their baby.
Sawashiro was relieved and tried to reassure Ikumi, but they were both troubled by the yakuza's unexplained motives and remained at the scene. A few minutes later, they saw two men retrieve a second baby from the adjacent locker 0101 and overheard them say a woman named Akane had hidden her newborn there. Sawashiro realized the yakuza had mistaken their baby for his.
While he and Ikumi separated sometime later, Sawashiro remained in Kamurocho. Five years later, at age twenty, he encountered the yakuza and his son again. Investigating them further, he learned the yakuza was Masumi Arakawa, patriarch of the Arakawa Family, and had named his son Masato. As for Masato, he had always required the use of a wheelchair due to organ failure caused by hypothermia suffered at birth.
From a distance, he observed Arakawa's efforts to soothe Masato, who resented his disability. He felt ashamed his actions led to his son's condition, later describing the scene as "[haunting him] for who knows how long." This guilt drove Sawashiro, who felt "fated" to end up a yakuza, to join the Arakawa Family. He pledged absolute loyalty to them to atone for their hardships and repay his gratitude to Arakawa.
Sawashiro earned Arakawa's complete trust and was appointed captain and treasurer. His militant stance also drove their notoriety to new heights, which peaked in the Bubble era. At the same time, he was caring and attentive toward Masato to the point of being described as "following [him] around like a lost dog." Masato, in turn, placed much of his faith in Sawashiro and favored him over Arakawa.
He rejected each of Ichiban Kasuga's attempts to join the family after Arakawa performed yubitsume for the Shinomiya Family in exchange for Kasuga's life, resorting to beating him whenever he approached Arakawa. These beatings continued even after Kasuga joined. Sawashiro later stated he always wondered when he would get the chance to kill Kasuga whenever he hit him.
Over time, he began to theorize one of the men he and Ikumi saw at the station may have been Jiro Kasuga, as Akane had been a former employee of his and he spoke as if he had been aware of the plan, which would mean Kasuga was Arakawa's biological son. He kept his suspicions to himself and continued to conceal the truth, believing he would never reveal it to anyone for the rest of his life.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: 2000-2019
Sawashiro orders Ichiban Kasuga and Mitsuo Yasumura to go for collections. Kasuga tries to pass the money off as that of a debtor, and Sawashiro figures out that it is Masato Arakawa's money. After this, he slams Kasuga against the wall, and gets a knife, clearly intending for Kasuga to commit yubitsume for taking Masato's money and passing it off as the collected sum. This is stopped when Masumi Arakawa enters the room, stopping Sawashiro just before Kasuga's finger is cut off.
Masato calls Sawashiro, informing him that he murdered Chikao Suzumori. Due to tensions with the Sakaki Family, the murder would cause trouble for the Arakawa Family. Sawashiro informs Arakawa of this development, and he chooses to act by instructing Kasuga to turn himself in for the crime instead, telling him Sawashiro had committed the murder. Masato later fakes his death and takes on the identity of Ryo Aoki with the Arakawa Family's help
After becoming governor, Aoki threatens the Arakawa Family into leaking Tojo Clan intel. While his patriarch considers options, Sawashiro suggests they grant intel in exchange for turning a blind eye to the Arakawa Family. Arakawa passes this suggestion to Daigo Dojima, who incorporates the idea into his plan to weaken the Omi Alliance. The Arakawa Family, Sawashiro included, defect to the Omi after the Tojo is driven out, and Sawashiro rises through the ranks to become one of the Omi's three lieutenants alongside Reiji Ishioda and Yosuke Tendo.
In 2019, Sawashiro guards the room where his patriarch is having dinner with other Omi offers when Kasuga arrives to see Arakawa. Noticing Kasuga's ferocious loyalty to the Tojo clan, Sawashiro threatens to kill if he doesn't leave. Kasuga refuses to recant and they fight. Sawashiro is defeated, and he warns Kasuga that there is no turning back if he opens that door. Kasuga is then shot and carried out.
Aoki, after arranging a meeting with Kasuga at Otohime Land, asks his Omi officers - Sawashiro included - to wait nearby in case he wants Kasuga disposed of. When the order is given, he and the other officers enter the soapland, but their assassination attempt is thwarted by Kasuga's friends. Sawashiro leaves the scene after ordering an underling to kill Kasuga.
Following the dissolution of the Omi Alliance, Sawashiro is ordered to kill Arakawa for his betrayal, but refuses. He later plans to round up the ex-Omi yakuza in Kanto under the Tokyo Omi Alliance and become its chairman. When informing Aoki, he orders Sawashiro to kill Ryuhei Hoshino to verify his chairmanship, citing Hoshion's support of Kasuga's political campaign as a reason to kill him. He leaks the danger to Hoshino anonymously, hoping to be stopped, but Sawashiro kills Hoshino.
Kasuga arrives too late, and after a fight with him, Sawashiro reveals to him the secret that Aoki is his biological son, and that Kasuga is most likely Arakawa's biological son, as they were swapped when they were placed in coin lockers. Feeling he has no future left for him, Sawashiro accepts being sent to prison. He is given a life sentence, receiving news some days later of Aoki's death.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Sawashiro is proficient in various martial arts and excels in the use of weapons in particular. Of these, his primary fighting styles are Vile Blade (慙愧流, zanki-ryū, lit. "Shame Style"), a hard-hitting style which utilizes sharp-edged weapons to inflict Bleed on his opponent and Cane (ステッキ, sutekki), a more defensive, retaliatory fighting style based off of a Western martial art.
For Vile Blade, he uses improvised weapons with no care for his safety. He wields a glass shard in his gloved hand for his first fight at Heian Tower. For his rematch in Hoshino's office, he wields Hoshino's cane and katana, which break during the fight. Afterward, he utilizes the broken blade from the katana in his bare left hand with the broken cane in his right.
Although a vicious bare-handed fighter as well, he does not take his opponent seriously when fighting unarmed. He utilizes a boxing fighting style when bare-handed, with fast footwork and combinations of jabs, crosses, and uppercuts. Outside of his ambidextrous use of weapons, he appears to be a left-handed fighter like his Ryu ga Gotoku Online equivalent.
- The katana Sawashiro uses is identical to Okita Soji's.
- Sawashiro's primary fighting style, Vile Blade, shares its Japanese name, Zanki-ryū, with a school of techniques first featured in Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!.
- Sawashiro's secondary fighting style, Cane, is described as a more refined version of Yu Nanba's style.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Ryu ga Gotoku Online
- The given height of 187 cm (6′ 2″) is based on the character model's scaling factor within Yakuza: Like a Dragon's data. For Dragon Engine games, this method is believed to be very accurate (±2 cm). However, this is intended as an estimate, not a substitute for an official statistic.
- The kanji that comprise the name of his primary fighting style, zanki-ryū (慙愧流, translate to "shame style," suggesting a deeper connection between Sawashiro's guilt and his actions at present.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. .BIN File — "character_model_model_data.bin". Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Profile — Jo Sawashiro (2019). Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
Captain of the Arakawa Family and lieutenant of the Omi Alliance. Sawashiro is a militant yakuza who has served the family since its days with the Tojo Clan. After Arakawa became the acting captain for the Omi Alliance, Sawashiro gained the same authority as their officers.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Profile — Jo Sawashiro (2000). Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
Captain of the Tojo Clan's Arakawa Family. While Arakawa himself stays balanced between duty and empathy, Sawashiro only cares about the former. As the disciplinarian of the Arakawa Family, Sawashiro's fists are ready to punish Kasuga on a daily basis. However, he shows compassion to Arakawa's only son, Masato.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 1: Light and Shadow — Sawashiro's Rage (cutscene)." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 13: Coin Locker Baby — Sawashiro Snaps (cutscene)." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 6: Ignition." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
- Christophe Delpierre, eds., “Characters / Personnages.”, in YAKUZA: LIKE A DRAGON - Day Ichi Book -, ed. Christophe Delpierre (Houdan: Les Éditions Pix'n Love, 2020), 32.— YAKUZA: LIKE A DRAGON - Day Ichi Book -, 32
Captain of the Arakawa Family, his lust for money contrasts with the moral principles of the family patriarch. He is constantly upbraiding Ichiban Kasuga for failing to bring in enough money. He represents the dark side of the organization.
- TSUTSUMI Shin'ichi 堤 真一, "PS4 senyō sofuto [Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue] Tsutsumi Shinichi supesharu intabyū" PS4専用ソフト『龍が如く７ 光と闇の行方』堤真一スペシャルインタビュー [PS4 Exclusive Ryu ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue Shinichi Tsutsumi Special Interview], YouTube video, 2:12, posted by "龍が如くスタジオ 公式," September 20, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jKo0YVojwc.
My character Sawashiro might be cool, but he's scary when you get him angry. He's a yakuza with conservative, old-fashioned ideas of discipline, and he can't stand the protagonist, his subordinate Kasuga, in particular. You could definitely say Kasuga sees him as something of a "boss from hell." But after certain events, Sawashiro betrays the Tojo Clan and switches sides over to the Omi Alliance, a rival organization. Time and time again, he gets in the party's way, but it's all actually in service of a deeper motive.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 13: Coin Locker Baby — Sawashiro Naps (cutscene)." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
Talk is cheap. The yakuza way to lead is with bloodshed! The weak always fall in line behind the strong.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Profile — Ichiban Kasuga (2000). Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
He joined the Arakawa Family at age 15, after a life-changing experience instilled in him a deep admiration for Masumi Arakawa. Ever since, Kasuga has dedicated his life to serving his teenage hero, but his many mistakes have earned him harsh words from Jo Sawashiro, the captain and fervent treasurer of the family.
- "Gōka shūen-jin ga shūketsu! [Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue] kansei hirō-kai ga jisshi!" 豪華出演陣が集結！『龍が如く7 光と闇の行方』完成披露会が実施！ [A Stunning Cast Attends! Ryu ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue's Completion Premiere Event Is Held!], November 18, 2019, https://getnews.jp/archives/2285413/. (Archive)
Although he's second-in-command in terms of his role, he has the forcefulness of a demon drill sergeant, so there's this sense he's someone you should be paying attention to. We wanted him to be played by an actor with the screen presence to make every word feel like it might have something more to it.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Profile — SSR Jo Sawashiro (Y:LAD Fighting Spirit). Ryū ga Gotoku ONLINE 龍が如くONLINE [Like a Dragon Online]. SEGA. iOS/Android/PC. 2018.
Captain of the Arakawa Family, a subsidiary of the Omi Alliance. As family captain long before it flew Omi colors, Arakawa's faith in him runs deep. However, he opposes Kasuga at each crossroads; that the two come to blows is inevitable. Though he can be described as a natural enemy for Kasuga, he is burdened by circumstances he may never speak to another soul of.
- Error: No original-language title provided for chapter.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 13: Coin Locker Baby — Motionless (cutscene)." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 13: Coin Locker Baby." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. "Chapter 13: Coin Locker Baby." In Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.