Episode 354 – Elementary, My Dear Okamoto!

This week, we’re talking about popular literature, with a specific focus on one of Japan’s most famous pieces of detective fiction — the Hanshichi Torimonocho.


Macdonald, Ian, trans. The Curious Case of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo.

Silver, Mark. Purloined Letters: Cultural Borrowing and Japanese Crime Literature, 1868-1937.


The graves of Okamoto Kido and his wife Okamoto Eiko in Aoyama, Tokyo.
Okamoto Kido late in life.
Scenes like this from Edo Meisho Zue give us a great window into life in Japan’s biggest city in the Tokugawa period.
Nakamura Fukusuke V and Ichikawa Sadanji II in a 1919 performance of Shuzenji Monogatari, the play which launched Okamoto Kido’s career.
If you’re asking yourself whether the Hanshichi stories ever got turned into budget period pieces, of course they did. Apparently Okamoto also tried to adapt them for the stage at one point, though it didn’t go great.

4 thoughts on “Episode 354 – Elementary, My Dear Okamoto!”

    1. Unfortunately, not that I’m aware of. There are a couple of modernized translations into vernacular Japanese, but none into English.

  1. Was there ever a Hanshichi fandom? Sherlock Holmes fans are generally credited as being the first fandom dedicated to a specific franchise. In fact, Arthur Conan Doyle’s frustration with the fans led to him attempting to am kill off Holmes. Did Japanese audiences become similarly obsessed with the Hanshichi character and stories?

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