獄門島(金田一耕助 Reading Club)

I guess it depends on how you interpret the だろうか?

How did you interpret it? I feel like I only know one way of doing so, which is potential/conjecture. :thinking:

1 Like

Yeah, but it could be either positive or negative conjecture, right?

Either way you translate it, it would read something like “I wonder if…” I guess I just assumed the implication “I wonder if a novelist would create such a gruesome scene… (but doubt that they would).” Maybe I assumed too much. :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Reading that sentence over again, I see it more the way you did now. I had missed a few nuances, like

The nuance of the だろうか is still a bit elusive to me if I try to translate it to English. I initially read it as more of a rhetorical question, implying that a novelist wouldn’t imagine such a gruesome scene. But actually it seems more like “Perhaps, just as a novelist thinks up gruesome scenes to change the world he sees in front of him, the murderer created that horrible scene out of flesh and blood, merely to satisfy a passing whim.”

1 Like

Yes, that’s true. I think for negative conjecture you need an actual negation in the conjecture, though. I believe in this case the conjecture is about the murderers actions/motives, which are here compared to a writer’s ‘actions’, so to speak.

Speaking of ‘writers’, I’ve been missing our narrator from 本陣殺人事件. I wonder if he’ll be back for some of the later stories, or if he was just a construct to make the entry novel more approachable.


Good point, I had completely forgotten about him! Interesting that 横溝 continues to stick exclusively to 金田一’s perspective though.

1 Like

I tried googling “傘をじょごにして” and it comes up with one result where someone compares editions - interestingly, it sounds like one (横溝正史『横溝正史自選集2 獄門島』(出版芸術社、2007年)) changes it to じょうごにする, and the Kadokawa is the only one of the three they were consulting with the 傍点. So at least it seems like a troublesome line in the text in general!
じょうご seems like it would be 漏斗, funnel - and I found at least a few traces of people in blogs and stuff using ”傘を漏斗にして” or variations - this best one was like this:

(picture of sunny day)
雲量 3
時々 ビニル傘を漏斗にしてしまいそうな南西風以外は台風の気配は無し。

In mushrooms, also, 漏斗形 appears to be:

So I suppose putting it together, it’s probably talking about their umbrellas having been blown out by the storm in that annoying way umbrellas sometimes do. :slight_smile:
I wonder if how it ended up as じょご is it’s a typo, or an older style thing, or a Yokomizoism or what? or maybe it really means something different…

1 Like

:hushed: That makes sense in context at least! Thanks, I’ll go with that!


And then chapter 3 comes in with even more buddhist and haiku terminology. :joy: I still managed to read it relatively quickly, and I enjoy all haiku references, really. It just means thoroughly going through this chapter will take much longer. I’ve set myself a max time for this for each day since I really want to prioritise reading… and really I enjoy deep diving in small doses only. I’ll probably start a document with all of the haiku. ~

Spoilers for chapter 3

I was honestly very surprised at how easily 金田一 got tricked by 清水. I mean we had the benefit of being told something bad was going to come off 清水’s suspicions, and 金田一 likes the guy, but still. I’m also a bit… eh. taken aback by how cavalier 金田一 is acting about the murders after he was asked by his friend to take care of his sisters. I’d have thought he’d be a bit more personally invested.
There was also that one moment of being addressed directly by the writing in this chapter, with 諸君 and all. Who’s addressing us though? Haha. Does this mean this is also being ‘written down’ by the same person as 本陣殺人事件?


I just finished Chapter 3, just in time to embark on our longest week of reading so far. I’m proud of myself for keeping up so far! Only two weeks in and we’re already almost halfway there!

As for the chapter itself, yeah @Belerith I agree with you about 清水’s trick, although it did strike me as a neat way to remove 金田一 from suspicion. I get your reservations about 金田一’s attitude, but didn’t he act basically just as callously in 本陣殺人事件? If anything, I’d say he has less of a direct personal connection now compared to 本陣.

More than that, I’m intrigued by the whole 気違い aspect, the idea that everyone on the island has a dark secret to hide, and the 和尚’s mysterious comments about 本家の主人と、なんの関係もない… 恐ろしいこと


That’s true, though having read chapter 4 now, I wonder if it was really necessary if 磯川警部 was going to show up anyway. :sweat_smile: It was pretty funny though. Shows how absentminded 金田一 can be when he’s not focusing on a case - that is, how careless he is with things not related to a case, maybe.

What bothers/bothered me about it wasn’t how callously he treated the murders - but how little mind he paid to trying to prevent them from happening. At least the 2nd one, after the 1st one should have gotten his guard up a litte. Presumably that’s what 千万 asked him to do as his dying wish, after all.

I continue enjoying watching everything unfold!

Musings on chapter 4

早苗’s actions with regard to the missed radio shows, and her not noticing a missing handkerchief when a head house handkerchief was found outside seem to point to 一 being around and in contact with her already. The handkerchief could have reasonable been his own, since he is part of the head family’s branch family. :upside_down_face: That it’s always 早苗 who goes to pacify her uncle when he is agitated by something (or someone!) is also pretty suspicious. Possibly she’s hiding her brother back there as well? Or his going and coming.

The 和尚 also knows something we don’t yet, and I’m really curious to find out what it is…

I found the song featured in chapter 3 that is still being sung far and wide - it’s actually really nice!


Well, that was a long chapter! The most engaging one so far though, especially the part where 磯川警部 arrived. You really get a sense of the superior/subordinate dynamics that colored Japanese life at the time. Like the fear 清水 has of being rebuked by 磯川 for imprisoning 金田一, narrowly avoided by 耕助’s willingness to laugh off the existence and accept blame for leading 清水 on. All very interesting.

Especially given what happens at the end of Chapter 4, I would argue that 耕助 deserves the benefit of the doubt for his failure to prevent the second and third murders. He was imprisoned during the second murder, so that distracted him from any suspicions he might have otherwise had. That’s only one reason why I think that was a very clever narrative device. The third time around, 耕助 clearly has (probably valid) suspicions about 早苗さん, and seems more concerned than anyone about ensuring 月代’s safety. The only thing I would criticize him for is not doing acting on his sinking feeling about 早苗 rushing to comfort her uncle immediately after he asks her to protect 月代.
Either way, there’s a palpable feeling of danger and unease surrounding these events, and I ended up feeling that 耕助 isn’t necessarily being as callous as I originally thought.

Last but not least, this time around it’s my turn to provide some supplementary information about a few of the references (possibly unneeded, but here it is anyway):

A description of 道成寺, a classic Noh play about a woman getting imprisoned by an evil spirit when she attempts to hide in a large temple bell (if I understood the description correctly).

Also, a few pictures.

白拍子 (Heian era dancer)

磬子 (apparently a bowl-shaped Buddhist gong)


Having read chapter 6 I stand corrected. 金田一 is clearly very much affected by what’s been happening, just like you said. That was quite the emotional chapter! The conclusion he is coming to is hurting him just as much as the murders themselves… I think I had more to say but I’m keen to read on, so I’ll leave it for another time!


I finished the book! I have like 5 minutes until I need to get ready for work, so I’ll keep this brief, haha.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I’m bad at guessing, so I wasn’t sure about who dunnit until it was revealed, and the methods… well, let’s say I wouldn’t make a particularly crafty murderer. :sweat_smile: That said, there definitely were a lot of hints that made everyone appear suspicious (and in this case a lot of them actually were culprits)!

During the last two weeks I didn’t do much if any deep-diving, since the page load was so high. So I’ve chapters 4-end still left. Now that I’m done with the book, I’m looking forward to returning to that, maybe over the weekend or so, and spend a bit more time with 獄門島 that way. I did start collecting Haikus with chapter 3, and we talked about the one before that here. Unless there’s more in the first 2 chapters…?

Speaking of haiku, my research led me to this site called ゼロから分かる俳句超入門, which seems like an interesting project for later :tm: The link is from when I was looking up the readings for 上五 and 下五.

How have you been faring, @Jfredel78 ? :slight_smile:


Sorry, it’s been a very busy week! I was worried this would happen…

However, I am staying mostly on track with 獄門島. Just finished Chapter 6. I’m planning to finish the rest of the book by Sunday, so I’ll check in again then. :+1:


I’m finished now! Took a bit longer than I expected, but I enjoyed the final denouement - which was equal parts chilling and melancholic. Not sure I’ve ever read a book with a mood quite like this.

A couple thoughts that nagged on my mind as I read the final chapter
  1. How would 千万太 have overheard the plans to kill his sisters, since he was fighting in the war when 嘉右衛門 made his deathbed request? They didn’t end up involving his cousin, either. I’m guessing that was just pure intuition on his part.
  2. Did anyone else feel like the final murder was glossed over way too quickly? I was wondering how 幸庵 was able to get in and out of the 祈禱所 without 了沢 noticing. Also, the timing of it, since he had to have entered the 祈禱所 after 月代 did, but before drinking himself unconscious.
  3. How did you interpret 金田一’s request to 早苗 to come to Tokyo with him? My interpretation was that he was trying to take her away from a difficult life as an 網元 heir. Did you read it the same way?

Anyway, I liked this book quite a bit overall. It was a difficult read, and since we read it at such a fast pace, I definitely wasn’t reading at a 100% comprehension level. But it was an interesting read despite the difficult vocabulary. I would even rank it a notch or two above 本陣殺人事件. It has more emotional weight than 本陣 and, more importantly, it actually involves some real murders! 以上です。

Thoughts on thoughts

金田一 was speculating that 嘉右衛門 himself may have told the both of them of his plan. That may well have still happened, even if 和尚 and the others weren’t told of it. That, or it may be obvious thinking about it from a feudalistic viewpoint. 本陣殺人事件 was also based on feudalistic ideas after all.
His cousin… I guess is connected in that the sisters would be killed to make him head of house? We don’t know what 千万太 would have said had he been able to speak more. :thinking:

I was thinking he might not have drunk himself quite so unconscious - possibly he acted a bit to open up a window of time in which to act. He may have acted while 了沢 went to get his alcohol. Another thing I was thinking about as his murder was told: as the person doing the autopsies, he might have had an easy time flunking the time of death a bit, though of course that stopped being a case the moment the police doctor came to the island.

My interpretation is that he quite liked her and would have taken her as wife. :joy: Possibly he was also trying to give her a way out for her own sake, as well.

I agree! It was very atmospheric and I also liked it a better than 本陣殺人事件. And we maybe don’t need to keep this pace for all the books. :joy:

Were you happy with your comprehension despite the speed?


Thanks for your thoughts! As long as we are on the same page there (which we seem to be), I’m happy with my comprehension level. There were a few sections where I sort of glossed over details to keep myself moving along (like the ceremony where the temple is passed over to 了沢), but nothing where I felt like I was wasn’t adequately following along with the story. I guess I’m still just scarred from 人間失格, where I misinterpreted some key details and got way off track before someone set me straight. :sweat_smile:


Congratulations on finishing!

Here’s my post in the extensive reading thread I made when I finished the novel and I’d say I stand by it! I agree that 獄門島 is a noticeable step up from 本陣 - which was great to find out since I had already really liked 本陣!
Ha, I also loved the ‘idly trying to read decorative haiku’ scene enough at the time to post about it there.

I enjoyed the book club a lot even though I wasn’t actually reading the book! Definite fond memories with this one and it was fun to watch you both encounter some of the stuff I remembered, and I’m glad it turned out positively.
Some comments like about the 和尚 and wondering if any specific haikus would come up definitely had me going ふふふ to myself and resisting the urge to post anything about it :sweat_smile:

Comments (just from memory) on particular spoilery things

I think in my memory I just figured 千万太 would have known how succession would have worked and also knew his grandfather was an extremely vicious and powerful asshole who hated his sisters and so would have worried for them for that reason.

I know I struggled the most to remember the last murder :sweat_smile:

I think it’s a little bit of column A little bit of column B with 金田一 asking 早苗 to come with him - but I do think he wouldn’t have done it if the island wasn’t so difficult and miserable a place probably at this point. Like the “holy cow you really gotta get out of this place, it sucks!” factor has gotta be strong :sweat_smile:

To echo thoughts along the way - I do remember thinking the bit where Kindaichi gets locked up was a little silly, and that it was a bit too bad with forewarning he didn’t manage to actually save anyone (although understandable under the circumstances…).

I do like a lot though how the villains succeeding in the murders but screwing up the succession anyway because they jumped the gun shows that ultimately no matter how much they excused it to themselves, or what the best interests of the island would really be, they wanted to murder some girls they hated. With the end result being a bunch of young people pointlessly dead and a lot of authority figures presumably going to prison. Seems like some resonance with war there…


Thanks for linking your comments from when you read 獄門島! I skipped the spoilers when you first posted, so it’s nice to be able to read them now. :slight_smile:

To quote you:
‘It’s probably the longest and hardest (vocabulary-wise at least) novel I’ve read so far in Japanese (and also probably my favorite). It’s really wonderful to be able to have a good time casually reading something like this,’

It seems like these should be two contradicting statements, but it really was a great time, for all that it also was very challenging. I also appreciated the scene with the 屏風, haha. Especially how hard they were for him to decipher. It was also just a really nice, sluggish morning scene, decadently reaching for another cigarette lying down… :smiley:

Also, I don’t think I said this yet, but I’m in awe of how much discussion we had with just the three of us. I really enjoyed this bookclub - and it quite enriched my reading experience. So thank you, the both of you!