獄門島(金田一耕助 Reading Club)

Welcome to 獄門島!


This book is part of the 金田一耕助 reading club. It is the second novel in the series but can be read as a stand-alone.

You can buy it here:

There will be no weekly threads, all discussion will be had in this thread.

Reading Schedule

Week Start Date Chapter Names Page Count
Week 1 Mar 7th プロローグ、第一章 ~65
Week 2 Mar 14th 第二章、第三章 ~97
Week 3 Mar 21st 第四章、第五章 ~107
Week 4 Mar 28th 第六章、第七章、エピローグ ~78

Thank you @Jfredel78 for providing the schedule and page count.


Wish I had that cover. Mine is much less visually appealing.


Oooh, I think yours sets a nice, dark tone. I don’t dislike it. :slight_smile: Do you want me to add it to the op?

Also, I’m happy to report I’m done with the prologue. Very nice setting of the scene - I had my suspicions it was going to be 金田一 sitting in the corner, sticking out.:joy:

Edit: I also have to say those detailed descriptions had me looking up a lot of dates and places, too… Took me about 40 minutes for what, 10-14 pages, probably? I’m assuming once we get into the thick of things there’ll be less looking up involved and reading will go a bit more smoothly, as with the first book. :slight_smile:

Edit²: my favorite new expression: 猫も杓子も. I think it’s just great. :sparkles:


I remember picking up the book for the first time idly when I was struggling to decide what to read next, and immediately getting sucked into the prologue! I think it’s really impressive how much Yokomizo is able to do with careful description. Like you said, it sets the scene very nicely and I think ends up somehow more exciting than if he jumped right in with like, a cold open style action scene of a murder or something.
What’s gonna happen on that island? :eyes:

Tempted to click around the ferries on google street view in the area he describes and listen to the koto music I had in the background while reading for old times’ sake!


By the way, like with 本陣, the Wikipedia page has an extremely useful reference list of character names. I definitely consulted it a lot while reading…

It’s handy to have and spoiler-free, unlike the rest of the Wikipedia article, so I’ll paste it here:

  • 金田一耕助(きんだいち こうすけ) - 私立探偵
  • 磯川常次郎(いそかわ つねじろう) - 岡山県警察部の警部
  • 清水(しみず) - 獄門島駐在巡査
  • 鬼頭嘉右衛門(きとう かえもん) - 本鬼頭家先代、故人
  • 鬼頭与三松(きとう よさまつ) - 本鬼頭家当主、精神病を患い座敷牢にいる
  • お小夜(おさよ) - 与三松の妾、女役者、故人
  • 鬼頭千万太(きとう ちまた) - 与三松の息子
  • 鬼頭月代(きとう つきよ) - 与三松の長女、お小夜の娘で千万太の腹違いの妹
  • 鬼頭雪枝(きとう ゆきえ) - 与三松の次女、お小夜の娘で千万太の腹違いの妹
  • 鬼頭花子(きとう はなこ) - 与三松の三女、お小夜の娘で千万太の腹違いの妹
  • 鬼頭一(きとう ひとし) - 千万太のいとこ、本鬼頭分家
  • 鬼頭早苗(きとう さなえ) - 一の妹、本鬼頭分家
  • 勝野(かつの) - 嘉右衛門の妾、通常「お勝」と呼ばれている
  • 鬼頭儀兵衛(きとう ぎへえ) - 分鬼頭当主
  • 鬼頭志保(きとう しほ) - 儀兵衛の妻
  • 鵜飼章三(うかい しょうぞう) - 分鬼頭居候、復員軍人
  • 荒木真喜平(あらき まきへい) - 獄門島村長
  • 了然(りょうねん) - 千光寺住職
  • 了沢(りょうたく) - 千光寺典座
  • 村瀬幸庵(むらせ こうあん) - 漢方医
  • 竹蔵(たけぞう) - 潮つくり
  • 清公(せいこう) - 床屋


I finished the prologue last night and am now on to Chapter 1. The way the book starts out is eerily similar to パノラマ島綺譚, but more succinct and compelling. Took me a while to get through the first few pages, but things feel like they should move a bit quicker once we get to the story proper.

Just a note about 金田一, interesting how his clothing here is described as old-fashioned, even stubbornly so. Everyone else on the boat is wearing 洋服. There were a lot of 和服 references in 本陣, but times changed a lot in nine years. I appreciated the nuance - thanks to details like that, you can feel the passage of time from the previous book.


Speaking of Ranpo, I think I might just try and read 孤島の鬼 now to make up for not rereading this one and get in on the island-based suspense fun in a different way :sweat_smile:


Yeah, I still have 孤島の鬼 sitting on my shelf. So many books, so little time…


I spent a couple minutes clicking on all those little islands the other day. Really beautiful, might be fun to take a ferry out there one day. Also that cat island… :eyes:

I’d meant to give the koto music you linked a try today but I wasn’t home when I read this book today… Next time!

I was pleasantly surprised by the sub chapters today. Seems chapter 1 is divided into 4 parts of roughly equal length, about the same as the prologue. That gives me a nice bit of structure to plan my reading around. :blush:

There were a couple terms I couldn’t get a good grasp on in the first sub chapter. They were fine in context and my sometimes foggy understanding of specific terms didn’t disturb my overall understanding or my reading flow, but I’ll probably go over this part later and try to figure them out - or, you know, ask. :smiley:

I’ll probably do that over the weekend, since it looks like I’ll be able to finish this week’s part by then.

Edit: I got distracted and forgot that I meant to reply to this too. :upside_down_face:

So much more succinct! :joy: I didn’t even make the connection for all that the concept is really quite similar. The authors’ styles manage to make it two very different settings. Really nice!

True! I found it really interesting that 横溝 chose to age him so much so quickly. But it’s quite a realistic portrayal of war time, I think? I wonder if we’ll get to learn more about that time in between in some flashbacks…
In the first sub chapter of chapter 1,
we did get to learn a bit about his war experiences, but only as it pertained to 鬼頭. Though I guess if they really were such close friends, that still leaves a lot of room for juicy flashbacks…
We also got a first look at our case, probably? Seems it’s going to happen while 金田一 is there! From the introduction of the islanders in the prologue I’d expected him to maybe discover some past deeds better left alone, but now it seems trouble is right around the corner! I don’t know, this was somehow a very exciting sub chapter, for all that it’s still mostly exposition!


I’m on to the third subchapter now. The reading definitely seems doable so far, but the vocabulary and names continue to slow me down. Took me awhile to figure out 家康公, for example, because there was no 徳川 attached to it, and no furigana either.

Here are a few things that have me stumped:

ふところ - This is used a lot when 清公 is explaining the 網元 system. Now I get that the 網元’s are basically feudal lords, taking the earnings and spoils from the fishermen in exchange for equipment. But what does ふところに入れる mean exactly? All I could find for ふところ was breast, or something like that.

ふところ examples

地主と小作の分まえは、ところによって違いますが、たいてい米の出来高の四分六分、つまり、地主はふところ手のくわえ煙管で、四分は自分のふところに入るんですからね。(p.35 in my paperback)

その代わりかれらはなにもしないで、漁獲の全部をふところに入れる。(also p.35)

Another one is 梃艪 (on the following page, when the 親方 is describing the 網元’s equipment. I have no idea what this means, any explanation is welcome!

About the 本鬼頭 and 分鬼頭 houses: these are just separate branches of the same family, right? I’m assuming that 分鬼頭 are lowlier members of the extended family, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

Finally, why does the 親方 sometimes change さん to つぁん? (i.e. お父つぁん ) I’ve never seen this before! Is it some kind of dialect, or just a rustic way of speaking?

On the upside, the setup so far is very interesting. There’s a very eerie undercurrent running through everything we’re learning about this island. One thing that struck me: why are there so many crazy people among the 網元 families? Inbreeding? If the girl from the lower 網元 house wasn’t even fit to marry one of the 本鬼頭 sons, then who would be a suitable match?

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ふところ is like breast - but by extension, breast pocket of like, a kimono.
This is ふところ手 shown with Toshiro Mifune, for example:
He’s got his 手 in his ふところ pockets.

So I figure ふところに入れる is the equivalent of “pocketing” - they take the money and it goes in their pocket, as a way of saying they get it. (and the usage of ふところ手 earlier in the example is I think showing that the 地主 are getting the money without actually doing anything - their hands are in their pockets, not working)

Come to think of it, I searched google images for ふところに入れる and it seems to support this :grin:

Yeah, I think it’s like – a branched off family. There was a 分家 in Honjin too and I think it’s the same deal, the split here is I think just older and more entrenched. If he hasn’t already, I think Yokomizo will explain more about exactly how the two branches think of and interact with each other later on.

I don’t know if it’s exactly “lowlier members of the extended family” so much as it is “a new family started at some point in the past by a member of the main branch, with a status and property that could rise and fall theoretically independently of the main branch” but I’m not sure / not an expert on how this kind of thing works.
Although looking at the character list, I guess there’s a 本鬼頭分家 and also a 分鬼頭. I think (??) the latter is just a longer-established continuation of the former? Like if you’ve got a son who isn’t in the direct line of succession or whatever he could form a 分家 that would eventually grow into being a whole full-blown separate family like the 分鬼頭 family has?


Thanks @rodan. That all makes sense, and is mostly in line with what I was assuming, but I’m always wary of running with half-baked assumptions when I’m reading. It always helps to get clarification.

This appears to refer to the number of rows on a boat.
However, every example I was able to find online uses the kanji 八丁艪 instead of 八梃艪 (used in the book).


That’s matches my experience so far as well. I’ve taken to looking up words in the kindle dictionary during my read through and keeping thorough lookups for later. It’s challenging, but I think manageable.

Yes, I love the vibe we’re getting from the descriptions and conversations. Great writing! It’s interesting how much we learn through 金田一 thinking back on what he learned during a short time skip, but I think it really adds to the atmosphere. He’s not happening on juicy information everywhere, but has to piece things together, slowly, through different sources. It’s like the mystery is slowly unfolding before him.

Speaking of thorough look ups - I’d planned to read the first chapter in full before doing that, but I had some time after finishing today’s sub chapter (the third one)… I opted to go over the beginning again instead of reading on. I managed to get through my highlights for the prologue and the first sub chapter, and I have a few questions.

questions for chapter 1 part 1 ゴーゴンの三姉妹

This is in the first half of this sub chapter, where they’re talking about the noise from the sea mine destruction. Suddenly the 和尚 talks about a 芭蕉のおきな.
Do you think the he is talking about 松尾芭蕉 here?
松尾芭蕉(まつおばしょう)の解説 - goo人名事典

He has a museum or something like that dedicated to him too, so he’s definitely well known enough. :open_mouth:
芭蕉翁記念館 | 俳聖 松尾芭蕉 – 芭蕉翁顕彰会

A little bit after that, the 和尚 says: 戦争がすむと後始末もしおらんで、さっさと引きあげていきおったで、どだいしまつにおえん。
I understand what he’s saying (he’s complaining about the soldiers who destroy the land during war, for war, and then leave without restoring it to how it was when the war is over). I’m having some trouble really getting the last part, どだいしまつにおえん。Is どだい: 土台・from the beginning; from the outset; by nature? しまつにおえん I’m reasonably sure is 始末に負えない.

… I think I figured it out just now. After talking about the soldier’s (in)actions, he’s saying that there’s really nothing to be done to begin with. Right?

On sub chapter 3

That 床屋 as a wealth of gossip, a true classic, haha. I enjoyed that. And then we get a sudden appearance of one of the (maybe) major players. Really nice set up. What is up with all these beautiful people though. :sweat_smile: At least this one doesn’t belong to the same family. It was interesting to see the お巡りさん in this part. 金田一 already making connections. :ok_hand:

I figured it was something like that, but it was on the list to be looked up later. Thanks for sharing and saving me some work. :slight_smile:


I just assumed this was his accent: どうだい → どだい. (For some reason)
As for しまつにおえん, I thought it was 始末に終えん. Am I wrong? 負えん actually came up first when I typed that sentence in, so now I’m not sure…

Either way, I’ve been surprised at how much hiragana is used in this book. There was one sentence I read today that included the phrase “うそかほんとうか.” Why no kanji for something as simple as that? Yet nearly indecipherable obscure terminology like 八梃艪 turns up without any furigana or anything. The mind boggles.

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You interpreted it as ‘for some reason’? Or you thought that for some reason?
When I see something can be a proverb or expression, I always jump on that, haha. How did you understand it with 始末に終えん? It doesn’t stop at/end with the clean-up?

Maybe one day we’ll understand. :joy: it’s probably to achieve some sort of effect or feeling in the reader, I guess… But what?? Haha.

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chapter 1 part 1

(I haven’t looked up what he was talking about in this particular instance but) very likely, yes! The 和尚 likes haikus a lot, and I remember 芭蕉 and one or two other famous haiku poets are mentioned in the book.
(And yeah, my impression is 芭蕉 is extremely famous as far as poets go).

To add:
I think, based on e.g. 翁忌(おきなき)とは? 意味・読み方・使い方をわかりやすく解説 - goo国語辞書 that 翁 (おきな) here is a respectful way of referring to Basho - like “The Bard” for Shakespeare, say.
So it goes to show how important Basho is and just how into haiku the priest is.


Thank you for the affirmation. I’ll be keeping that in the back of my mind for scenes with the 和尚, haha.
I’d love it if he referenced concrete poems, as well… I hope it’d be obvious, at least. Now I’m wondering if there’s some sneakily hidden in the 和尚’s speech. :joy:

That’s a good catch! I saw that but didn’t pay attention to it during my lookup. I didn’t know Shakespeare was referred to as the bard, either. :slight_smile:


Thanks for that info. That reference COMPLETELY went over my head. :joy:

I interpreted it as “for some reason,” or “for whatever reason.”

I understood it like “they weren’t able to get to finish the clean-up.” Or something like that. Now that I’m thinking about it more analytically, it doesn’t really make sense grammatically. This is why I’m never sure whether to skip over things I don’t fully understand for the sake of moving forward in the story, or to take as much time as I need to understand every nuance (and therefore have a more layered reading experience).


I think both are very valid, and they each have their own advantages. For me it really depends on the book, and the depth of my understanding. Like, this book? Makes me want to go for the deeper understanding. But we’re doing a challenging speed, so I’m actually reading forward with just the gist, instead. Which is definitely fine for general understanding, just some details get lost.

I’m really thankful kindle makes it easy to find stuff again by marking so I can do a bit of both. (I marked 222 spots over the prologue and first 3 sub chapters of chapter 1. So, maybe too easy :joy:… I can’t keep myself from marking all the names and places, haha.)
Going over the beginning again yesterday, I found that a lot of things already became clear simply by reading on, so you’re probably fine, too.

Details from chapter 1 part 2: 太閤様の御臨終

Right at the beginning when the 和尚 allows 金田一 to stay at the temple, he says:

I’m pretty sure I get what he’s saying through context, but I had some real trouble parsing ようがしょうが. That’s just よいでしょうが, right?

Not much later, at the barber’s, there’s a sentence talking about how the barber’s dialect, just like 金田一’s, doesn’t fit in with the locals. There’s an expression used, スフが入っている. スフ seems to be staple fibre, and I found a kotobank entry for スフ入り: 織物にスフ糸がまじっていること。

I reckon it’s a metaphor with how staple fibre doesn’t belong /would stick out in some cloth. Googling the phrase also brought me one tweet talking about 金田一, but not much else. If either of you has anything to add, I’d appreciate it. :slight_smile:


Similarly I spent a while trying to figure out 大きゅうがす – that damn barber and his ‚proper‘ 江戸弁! Turns out it’s just 大きゅうございます. Here I was trying to think of some compound word 大きゅう, and it’s just 大きい…

A yahoo question & answer on 大きゅう among others

Notes on other stuff I’m curious about but don’t feel like researching right now:

That 例え where the 分鬼頭’s head is like 家康, and there’s a 淀君 at his side. They’re clearly having fun referencing certain historical events, but what exactly? May look into this at some later point.

I finished chapter 1 and this week’s part! :partying_face: I spent too long writing those details up, so I’m just going to quickly leave my favourite sentences here (both in the first half of chapter 1 sub chapter 4):