Translation Works
To Japanese
The 4th Selected Works
The Case of the Sharaku Murders
The Case of the Sharaku Murders
(Sharaku satsujin jiken)
ENGLISH / Ian MacDonald
  • Sophisticated combination of the mystery of Sharaku with that of the murder case.
  • The young ukiyo-e researcher who comes very close to uncovering the true self of the "mysterious painter" and murder cases around him.
  • An entertainment novel.
Atsushi Saga died mysteriously. Saga was a Tensho(seal script) calligrapher and a freelance researcher. Ryohei Tsuda, an assistant of Professor Shunsaku Nishijima who is an authority of ukiyo-e, sees Kokuhu again at Saga's funeral. Tsuda and Kokuhu, who is senior to Tsuda, used to be the members of the seminar of Professor Nishijima. Tsuda is surprised that Kokuhu, who used to be Nishijima's student, has been close to Saga, because the relationship between Nishijima and Saga has been in the state of cold war for five years due to conflicting opinions. Tsuda goes to an antiquarian bookshop and gets an art book from the shop owner, Mizuno, who is the late Saga's younger brother in law. Then his eyes are glued to the letters,"Toshusai Sharaku, former Chikamatsu Shoei",attached to a picture.
In the late Edo period, there was a mysterious painter named Toshusai Sharaku who suddenly disappeared after releasing 140 ukiyo-e prints in just 10 months. Who in the world is Sharaku? Having found a new theory, Tsuda tries to find a key to solving the mystery with Saeko who is Kokuhu's younger sister. However, Nishijima, who takes the achievement that Tsuda has made, is found dead and burned, and….
The author won the Edogawa Rampo Prize, which is known as a gateway to success for new writers, for this long and authentic mystery novel in 1983. The author, who was an ukiyo-e researcher himself, successfully integrates ukiyo-e into a mystery. He wrote that the relationships between the characters are depicted through the process of solving the mystery of Sharaku prior to the occurrence of incidents, which served as the material for solving the murder case later in the book. The author has skillfully combined his wide and deep knowledge of ukiyo-e with a thrilling mystery.