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Japanese Literature : Seishi Yokomizo – Part 1 –

Date Published: Last Update:2015/01/19 Entertainment , , , , ,

In my post Fukiya village (3), I wrote that the former Hirokane residence was chosen as a location for the “Yatsuhaka-mura” film twice.
The original novel was written by the late Seishi Yokomizo, who is still one of the most famous mystery writers in Japan.

Seishi Yokomizo was born in Hyougo prefecture, which is next to Okayama, in 1902.
His mother died when he was five, and his father got remarried the following year.
In 1921, he participated in a prize story competition on a mazagine and won the first place.
Since then, he wrote more than 600 long and short stories until he died in 1981.

I’ve only read one novel, but I’ve read a few comics and seen several films based on his stories.
My impression to his stories is that they are occult-tasted like John Dickson Carr.
In fact, Yokomizo had read many J. D. Carr’s stories, and “Yoru aruku” (literal translation: “Walk in the night”), the title of the only book I read, is the same title for the Japanese translation of “It walks by night” by Carr.

Yoru Aruku

- "Yoru Aruku" by Seishi Yokomizo -

Yoru Aruku by Carr

- "Yoru Aruku" (It walks by night) by J. D. Carr -

However, I didn’t feel these two were similar except the victims’ decapitated bodies, and according to Yokomizo himself, he got the idea of this story from the novel “The case of the sleepwalker’s niece” by E. S. Gardner.
(There are sleepwalkers in Yokomizo’s “Yoru aruku”.)

Muyuubyousha no mei

- "Muyuubyousha no mei" (The case of the sleepwalker's niece) by E. S. Gardner -

Yokomizo and Okayama prefecture

His birth parents and his step-mother were from Okayama.
He fled to Okayama with his family in April 1945, just before the end of the war, and stayed there for about 3 years and half.
His evacuation home is now open to public from 10:00 to 16:00 for free on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Yokomizo-related items are displayed in a town history museum nearby too.
Opening hours are the same as the evacuation home and no admission fee needed.

[Directions from the museum to Yokomizo’s evacuation home]

Also, there is a walking tour called “Sen-nin no Kindaichi Kousuke”, Thousand Kousuke Kindaichi.
(“Kousuke Kindaichi” is the private detective created by Yokomizo.)
All the participants should dress like Kindaichi (or anyone in Yokomizo’s works or any of fictional great sleuths) and visit Kindaichi-related places.
It’s probably being held once a year, and the latest one was the sixth tour, on Nov. 22 in 2014.
According to the official website (Japanese page), this time they walked around the places related to “Honjin Satsujin Jiken” (The Case of The Honjin Murder), the novel Kindaichi first appeared.

Some of Yokomizo’s best-known works were written and/or set in Okayama, including “Honjin Satsujin Jiken”(1946), “Gokumon-tou”(1947) and “Yatsuhaka-mura”(1949).
At the first parts of “Yatsuhaka-mura”, he used a spree killing known as “Tsuyama massacre” as a motif.

-Tsuyama massacre-
Occurred in Okayama prefecture bvon May 21 of 1938.
A 22 year-old man committed suicide after he killed 30 people and injured 3 in about two hours.

Yatsuhaka-mura book

- "Yatsuhaka-mura" (The eight-grave village) -

Yokomizo had created several characters, and among all, “Kousuke Kindaichi” is definitely the most poplular.
In a Japanese manga “Kindaichi-shounen no jiken-bo” (“Kindaichi Case Files”), a main character called “Hajime Kindaichi” appears as a grandson of him. *
When he comes across a murder case, he always swears he will solve the mystery with the phrase “In the name of my grandpa!”

*This is well-known setting, but it’s not officially admitted by Yokomizo’s side.
Kousuke never got married in his original novels let alone had got any children, and the creators of the manga didn’t bother to get permission from Yokomizo’s family.
So, you can say Hajime is just a self-claimed grandson.

In the next post, I’m going to write about his characteristics and a little bit of other detectives created by Yokomizo.


Related posts:
#Seishi Yokomizo (2)

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A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

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