The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo

Paperback: $26.00
ISBN-13: 9780824831004
Published: December 2006

Additional Information

376 pages
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  • About the Book
  • “That year, quite a shocking incident occurred. . . .” So reminisces old Hanshichi in a story from one of Japan’s most beloved works of popular literature, Hanshichi torimonochô. Told through the eyes of a street-smart detective, Okamoto Kidô’s best-known work inaugurated the historical detective genre in Japan, spawning stage, radio, movie, and television adaptations as well as countless imitations. This selection of fourteen stories, translated into English for the first time, provides a fascinating glimpse of life in feudal Edo (later Tokyo) and rare insight into the development of the fledgling Japanese crime novel.

    Once viewed as an exclusively modern genre derivative of Western fiction, crime fiction and its place in the Japanese popular imagination were forever changed by Kidô’s “unsung Sherlock Holmes.” These stories—still widely read today—are crucial to our understanding of modern Japan and its aspirations toward a literature that steps outside the shadow of the West to stand on its own.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Kidō Okamoto, Author

    • Ian MacDonald, Translator

      Ian MacDonald was awarded first prize in the Shizuoka International Translation Competition in 1997 and has translated the stories of Mishima Yukio, Kurahashi Yumiko, and Izumi Kyôka, among others.
    • JAPANESE LIT PUB & PROMO CTR, Translator

    • Ian MacDonald, Translator

      Ian MacDonald was awarded first prize in the Shizuoka International Translation Competition in 1997 and has translated the stories of Mishima Yukio, Kurahashi Yumiko, and Izumi Kyôka, among others.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • This excellent translation by Ian MacDonald invites readers to enter the world of Edo. His 25-page introduction effectively orients readers in the ‘Hanshichi world,’ and also introduces the life of Okamoto Kido. . . . This translation is a major introduction to the history of popular literature in modern Japan.
      Japanese Studies
    • An entertaining collection of detective stories. . . . The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi offers a special pleasure for readers familiar with the Tokyo area, where well-known place names appear on every page, but with startling different details.
      The Daily Yomiuri
    • It’s a mystery how anyone survived old-time Edo. Danger stalked the geta-clad at every turn: vendettas by tetchy samurai, hauntings by ill-used whores, the occasional spirit abduction and even attack by river otter. Yes, river otter, those vicious, furry carnivores that might leap onto your umbrella during a rainstorm and scratch your face into ribbons. That is just some of the fascinating, if wacky and creepy Edo Period (1603–1867) world that pops up in [this] highly entertaining translation. . . . [An] engaging collection of stories [that will] appeal to mystery, history and river-otter fans alike.
      Asahi Weekley
    • The stories are fast-paced and eventful . . . light-hearted, good-humoured, and generally fun.
      —dannyreviews.com