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Summaries for each chapter of Shinjū.
A man on horseback rides to the Sumida River. In tow are two dead bodies, that of a man and women. Taking the bodies into a boat with him, he rides until he finds himself at a pier. Tying the bodies together, he places a small, flat lacquer case under the woman's sash. He pushes the bodies into the river and takes one of the ropes, lodging it in a crack in the wood. After checking to make sure the two bodies won't float away, he starts to row upstream.
Chapter 1 Edit
Sano Ichirō rides into Nihonbashi on horseback as he muses about his transformation from simple tutor to yoriki. He approaches the charred remains of around fifty houses, the aftermath of a large fire. His job is to find out whether or not if the fire was the result of arson and, if it was, to arrest the person responsible.
He spots a man trying to get an iron chest from the rubble and goes to interrogate him. Just then, a thin, ragged looking man runs and falls in front of Sano. A pair of burly men, who had been chasing the ragged man, start clubbing him. Sano stops them and quickly figures out that the leader is a dōshin. He introduces himself and demands an explanation for their attack. The dōshin apologizes and the group bow, all the while barely concealing their contempt.
Sano bristles at their rudeness, but understands their disgust. He repeats his question. The dōshin says that the man they had been chasing was the one that set the fire, citing witnesses who saw the man fleeing the street after the fire had been set and the word of the man himself. Unconvinced, Sano interrogates the man, only to find the man cannot understand what Sano is saying, nor himself. Sano berates the dōshin for failing his job. The dōshin counters back by saying he could not have known.
While the argument had been taking place, a number of people stopped to watch the argument. At the dōshin's words, some of the bystanders accost the dōshin. The dōshin snaps at them to shut up then turns to Sano, saying that arson is a serious crime and that someone has to pay for it. Before Sano can chastise the dōshin for using a scapegoat, he notices the dōshin reaching for his short sword. Knowing that the only thing keeping the dōshin from dueling him is his rank, Sano hastily makes peace by offering to help search for the actual criminal.
Later that day, Sano returns to the administrative district in Hibiya. While on the way to police headquarters, a messenger intercepts him, telling him that Magistrate Ogyu would like to see him straight away. Sano eventually arrives at the Magistrate's mansion. After identifying himself to a pair of guards, he walks through the mansion's grounds. Soon enough, he finds himself standing in front of the entrance to the Court of Justice.
Stepping inside, he finds the Magistrate conducting a trial. At the far end, Magistrate Ogyu sits upon the dais with his current defendant, Blacksmith Goro, sitting opposite him on the shirasu. After considering all of the evidence against Goro, the Magistrate considers the defendant guilty of murdering his father-in-law. Ogyu sentences Goro to death, with his family sharing his punishment through banishment. He nods to a nearby dōshin who takes the struggling Goro out of the courtroom. The awaiting attendants escort the trial's spectators away.
Ogyu calls Sano to him. Sano walks to the end of the room and kneels behind the shirasu. Bowing to Magistrate Ogyu, he politely inquires about why he was summoned. The Magistrate does not directly tell Sano the exact reason, but Sano still gets the message: it was disgraceful for a yoriki to do a dōshin's job. Wanting to defend himself, Sano starts to tell Magistrate Ogyu about the injustice that could have occurred, only to be interrupted by Ogyu. Ogyu changes the subject, mentioning that he met Katsuragawa Shundai yesterday.
At that moment, Sano remembers when his father had taken him to see Shundai. Sano's father had asked Shundai to see if he could find a job for Sano. Shundai had said he would see what he could do.
Returning to the present, Sano understands his obligation to his father and to Shundai. He silently vows to never personally investigate any other case to cross his desk.
Anticipating a dismissal, he bows again, but none comes. Instead, the Magistrate tells Sano to do exactly as he says, saying the matter is of the utmost discretion. Curiosity piqued by Ogyu's unusual bluntness, he listens as the Magistrate tells him about a fisherman who found the bodies of a man and women who had apparently died from committing suicide together. Due to the common occurrence of these love suicides, Sano wonders why Ogyu would bring it up. As if to answer his unspoken question, Ogyu hands over a folded letter that had been sitting on his desk.
On the letter is a passage from a popular Kabuki play and the names of two people: Noriyoshi and Niu Yukiko. Sano now understands the weight of this case: due to Yukiko's high birth, word getting out that she partook in a shinju would be a terrible disgrace to her family. Ogyu gives Sano orders to hand Yukiko's body to the Nius while Noriyoshi's body will be left out for the public to see; the usual treatment for corpses resulting from shinjus. Ogyu then dismisses him.
Sano cannot help but feel as though something is amiss. The Magistrate's emphasis on discretion only arouses his suspicion and instinct tells him that there is more to this case than a simple tale of star-crossed lovers. However, he remembers his pledge and bows to Ogyu.
At police headquarters, Sano walks into the compound, passing by a barely populated inner reception chamber. Sano greets Yamaga and Hayashi, two men who represent the stereotype that yorikis are known for: proud, obsessed with fashion trends, and haughty. Hayashi speaks to Sano in a tone that makes his words an insult, making it all too clear that they don't approve of how Sano became a yoriki.
Carrying their disapproval with him, he walks into his designated office only to be greeted by another source of unhappiness. Instead of working on filing reports, his personal secretary, Hamada Tsunehiko, is lazing about, reading a storybook. Seeing Sano, Tsunehiko quickly tries to hid the book, saying that he awaits his orders.
Sitting behind his desk, he tells Tsunehiko to take a report. After many screw-ups on the young man's part, Sano reads over the report, cheeking for any errors. Once he confirms that there are none, he places his seal on it then hands it over to his secretary, telling him to take it to the chief clerk. Not a moment after Tsunehiko opens the office door do Yamaga and Hayashi pass by, talking about how they plan to visit Yoshiwara. As bits of their conversation reach Sano's ear, he has a brief vision of what would happen to him should he meekly obey Ogyu's orders; he'd turn into the average yoriki, one who cares more about appearances than actually doling out justice and righting wrongs.
Telling Tsunehiko to wait, he takes the report out of the boy's hands and rips it up. Walking back to his desk, he hurriedly writes a new report stating that Noriyoshi's and Yukiko's death warrant investigation. He hands this new report to Tsunehiko before leaving his office.
Chapter 2 Edit
At Edo Jail, Sano tells a couple of guards that he wishes to speak to the men who handled the corpses. A guard takes him to see the warden who brings him out to the courtyard to meet some eta; two of teenagers and an elderly man. Sano asks them about the condition of the corpses, but the eta cannot remember if they saw anything. Quickly figuring out that further questions will yield no useful answers, he tells the eta that they are free to leave. The two teenagers hurriedly run off. The old man, however, stays and tells Sano that he knows of a man who might help him. Sano follows the eta, walking through passages lined with cells.
The eta and Sano soon arrive at the morgue. Sano steps inside and meets Ito Genboku. Sano asks Ito if he noticed anything on the bodies, such as bruises or wounds, that would indicate that Yukiko or Noriyoshi had been murdered. Ito replies that he had been too busy with the victims of the fire to notice anything, and that Yukiko's body has already been sent to her family. Sano notes that Magistrate Ogyu had not trusted him to this simple task after all. Ito then says that they still have Noriyoshi and asks Sano if he would like to observe the body for himself. After accepting Ito's invitation, Mura retrieves Noriyoshi's body and items with the help of some other etas. Ito hands over Noriyoshi's paraphernalia; some clothes and a sandal. The quality of the material indicates that the dead man was rather poor. The Niu's would have opposed a marriage between him and Yukiko for that reason alone.
Once the body is all set for inspection, Sano surveys the corpse and only finds rope marks around the man's wrists. Sano thanks Ito and is about to leave, but Ito frowns and tells Mura to turn Noriyoshi so he is laying on his stomach. Taking a knife and razor, Mura cuts and shaves a part of Noriyoshi's hair off, revealing purple indentations on his head. Sano wonders what made it and Ito speculates a number of reasons before saying that the only way to make sure would be to cut Noriyoshi open. He gives Ito the go ahead to preform an autopsy.
Turning Noriyoshi back onto his back, Mura cuts into one of the dead man's lungs, revealing a lack of water. Ito confirms that Noriyoshi did not die by drowning. Unable to stand the morgue any longer, Sano rushes out of the jail, stopping at a canal to vomit before riding to the nearest bathhouse. He scrubs himself vigorously then submerges himself in the scorching hot water of the communal tub. After a few minutes, the results finally hit him: Noriyoshi was indeed murdered, which most likely meant that Yukiko was as well. However, no one can know of the dissection, so he will have to figure out some other way of finding evidence that proves they were murdered.
Chapter 3 Edit
Sano wakes up in his bedchamer within the yoriki barracks. He gets dressed then walks to the dining room, finding Yamaga, Hayashi, and four other yoriki already eating breakfast. The conversation stops when he walks in, only resuming when the senior yoriki, Hachiya Akira, makes a remark about his tardiness. Sano apologizes and sits next to Hayashi.
Akira continues the conversation and the other yoriki join in. Sano's mind wanders back to the investigation as he ponders about what move he should make next. Eventually, he concludes that the best course of action to take next would be to interview anyone who knew Yukiko and Noriyoshi. He excuses himself before leaving.
At the Niu mansion, one of the guards tells Sano that Lord Niu is not there, but his wife will see him. He follows the guard to the reception chamber. When he gets there, he meets Lady Niu and her bodyguard, Eii. Behind a screen are two of Lord Niu's daughters; Midori and Keiko.
Sano tells Lady Niu that he has some questions regarding Yukiko that he needs to ask, to which she accepts. The first question is if the way Yukiko died came as a surprise. Lady Niu says that it was, but she also admits that it was not unlike Yukiko to do something like this. She remarks that the theater influences many young girls, something he must have read on Magistrate Ogyu's note. Sano is taken aback by this sudden switch in topic.
A maid named O-hisa steps into the room, carrying a tray of refreshments. After spilling green tea all over the tray, Lady Niu orders the maid to get another one. O-hisa bursts into sobs, her trembling making the tray's contents fall onto the floor. Lady Niu orders Eii to see to her. Eii picks up the spoiled food, tray, and maid in one swift movement and places maid and all outside the door before quickly returning to Lady Niu's side. Hearing sobbing from behind the screen, Lady Niu tells the daughters to leave. Once they've left, Lady Niu turns back to Sano and asks him if there is anything else he would like to know, when the door opens once again. A young man enters, saying that a priest would like to speak to Lady Niu.
Lady Niu introduces Sano to her son, Masahito. She tells Masahito that maybe he should speak to the priest himself, but Masahito ignores her and stays. Sano asks about Yukiko's character and her popularity. Lady Niu says that while Yukiko was secretive and kept to herself, she was also gentle and loving, and everyone within the estate loved her. Masahito hints that not everyone liked her. Sano inquires about Yukiko's supposed dissenter, but Masahito only gives him a vague smile.
Sano decides to switch subjects and subtly questions how Yukiko was able to meet her supposed lover for rendezvous. Lady Niu says that, with so many people living in such a big house, it is difficult to keep track of everyone. Compounding matters is the fact that Yukiko had apparently bribed one of the guards to let her out after dark. At Sano's inquiry as to whether or not she had been missed on the night she disappeared, Lady Niu says that they were all attending a play that was being hosted by one of the nearby lords and that the show did not end until it was rather late. Masahito laughs at this understatement, saying that the party lasted until dawn and that no one bothered to check if everyone had gotten home safely.
Sano starts wondering what he should ask next when Masahito remarks that all of Sano's questions make it sound like he thinks Yukiko was murdered. Alarmed that his real reason for visiting was revealed, Sano can only hold Masahito's gaze. Masahito reaffirms that Yukiko committed suicide before hinting that Sano should leave. Since he has no choice but to go, Sano says his farewells and follows a guard back to the entrance. Along the way, the guard stops to chat with another guard.
Sano starts to hear someone whistle the tune of a classic song. He looks to see where it is coming from, looking around until he sees a young girl dressed in a red kimono. Beckoning him to follow her, she says that she could help him before quickly disappearing through a doorway. He follows her until he reaches a garden.
The young girl- whose name is Midori- tells Sano that she knows that Yukiko did not commit suicide, that she would never do something like that. Trying to stay objective, Sano asks her just how she knows about this. Midori cannot be certain, but still insists that Yukiko was indeed killed.
Just then, Lady Niu calls out to Midori from a nearby veranda, startling the both of them. Lady Niu orders Midori to her room. She tells the guards to escort Sano out of the mansion.
Once outside, Sano regrets not hearing the whole story from Midori. Her evidence might have been just what he needed to convince Magistrate Ogyu that a thorough investigation was necessary. He decides to visit Midori later.
Chapter 4 Edit
In Yukiko's bedchambers, Midori starts searching for her sister's dairies while knowing that she's trespassed into forbidden territory. She finds a couple underneath a pile of kimonos. Snatching the one on top, she hurries to a window and starts to read. After skimming through a few passages about past events, she finds the last entry that Yukiko wrote before her death. The words "destroy", "betray", and "sin" instantly pop out at Midori. By the sound of it, Yukiko was keeping something a secret, but just how terrible was it that it would cause her sister to write such things?
Unfortunately for Midori, Lady Niu catches her reading the diary. Lady Niu accosts her for overstepping clearly set boundaries contemplating what the best punishment should be. She tells Eii to bring Midori to her room and to make sure she does not leave. As Midori is escorted out of Yukiko's bedchambers, she sees Lady Niu rip up the dairy, placing the torn pages into a brazier.
Chapter 5 Edit
Returning to his office, Sano finds a gloomy Tsunehiko waiting for him. Once Sano gets him to talk about what's bothering him, Tsunehiko complains that he never gets to go anywhere with Sano and that he's supposed to be learning about being a yoriki, but Sano rarely teaches him anything. Sano promises that the two of them will work more closely together from now on. With Tsunehiko placated, Sano then turns to more important business: the address where Noriyoshi lived. Tsunehiko offers Sano a piece of paper with the address. Apparently, Noriyoshi lived and worked in Yoshiwara.
While not praising his secretary outright, he takes Tsunehiko with him to Yoshiwara as a reward for finding the address. After a trip by ferry, Sano stops to question some guards if they had noticed either Noriyoshi leaving the quarter on the day of his death or if any of them had noticed someone carrying a large box or package on that same day. Unfortunately, the guards are not helpful and since Sano is conducting this investigation by himself, he cannot pull rank on them. He thanks them for their cooperation before heading inside.
Surveying the quarter, he compares the newest version of Yoshiwara to his past trips here. Many new businesses had been started since his last visit. The warm and lush Yoshiwara of spring and summer had lost much of its charm and glamor in the cold and dreary winter. Tsunehiko, excited to be here despite this, wishes that Yoshiwara was closer, prompting Sano to explain the government's reasons for its current location.
After Tsunehiko gets sidetracked by a wrestling match being held in a nearby teahouse, Sano regrets bringing his secretary along. He mentions the street they are supposed to be going to, regaining Tsunehiko's attention. To his surprise, Tsunehiko tells Sano that he knows a short cut and immediately guides him to Canary Street. Following his secretary, the two eventually arrive their destination. Thankfully for Sano, Tsunehiko gets distracted again, allowing him to conduct interviews in private.
Within moments, a store's hawker tries to sell him some products. The hawker leads Sano into the shop and shows off some crudely made pictures. As it turns out, the hawker is Okubata, the shop's owner and Noriyoshi's employer. After inquiring about Noriyoshi, Okubata assumes that Sano is here to buy his work which Sano dismisses. While enduring Okubata's veiled insults and wisecracks, Sano learns that Noriyoshi was a man who had few friends and no living relatives.
Too late does Sano realize that he mishandled the interview, allowing Okubata to withhold information despite Sano knowing that the owner was lying due to the man's body language. Deciding that more questions would do more harm than help, Sano- with permission from Okubata- searches Noriyoshi's room. The room holds more evidence of Noriyoshi financial standing: that his income was small. Despite this fact, Sano stumbles across a pouch with at least thirty koban inside; more than anyone among Noriyoshi's class could ever hope to earn through honest means.
In the blink of an eye, Okubata takes the pouch from Sano, explaining it away as payments that Noriyoshi collected for him. Even though Sano knows that the owner is lying once again, he resists the urge to use force on the man. Instead, he interviews the other store's employees which turns out to be a pointless venture; they cannot tell him anything new, either.
As Sano returns to the shop's entrance, he notices Okubata urgently talking to an elderly man. Spying Sano, Okubata cuts off their conversation and tells the man to leave. The elderly man ignores Okubata and introduces himself to Sano as Healing Hands, a blind masseur. Sano asks Healing Hands if he knew Noriyoshi. Thankfully, the masseur shares a piece of information that Okubata was keeping to himself; Noriyoshi had one lady friend named Wisteria. Shortly after telling Sano what the name of the pleasure house she works at is, Okubata interrupts Healing Hands by reminding him what saying the wrong thing in front of a yoriki could do. This scares the masseur enough to leave. Leaving Okubata and his shop behind, Sano catches up to Healing Hands to ask more questions, but Okubata's warning keeps the masseur silent.
Sano reviews what he learned and decides to stay in Yoshiwara until nightfall with the intent to meet Wisteria. At that moment, he remembers that he is set to meet his parents tomorrow, something that he cannot put off or avoid. He goes to find Tsunehiko so they can return to the city.
Chapter 6 Edit
Chapter 7 Edit
Chapter 8 Edit
Chapter 9 Edit
Chapter 10 Edit
Chapter 11 Edit
Chapter 12 Edit
Chapter 13 Edit
Chapter 14 Edit
Chapter 15 Edit
Chapter 16 Edit
Chapter 17 Edit
Chapter 18 Edit
Chapter 19 Edit
Chapter 20 Edit
Chapter 21 Edit
Chapter 22 Edit
Chapter 23 Edit
Chapter 24 Edit
Chapter 25 Edit
Chapter 26 Edit
Chapter 27 Edit
Chapter 28 Edit
Chapter 29 Edit
Chapter 30 Edit