Let me start off by saying The Ghost on the Tokaido Inn is an awesome book. The experience reading it is everything and more than when I first acquired it, blogged about it and started reading it a month ago. It has been my companion over the past few weeks as I read through a chapter (most times more) every now and again before going to bed. The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn is the first book in the Samurai Mystery series and now I am super happy I went ahead and got the first few books as I can immediately jump into the second book called The Demon in the Teahouse, which I will talk about more in a separate post.
Born a Merchant but dreams of being a Samurai
This book is a joy to read as you follow the adventures Seikei, a 14 year old merchant boy who dreams of being a Samurai but unfortunately as he was not born to a Samurai family it is impossible for him to be anything more than a merchant. During the Edo period the four major social classes in order of importance were Samurai, Commoner, Craftsman and Merchant plus a minor fifth class performing undesirable tasks as grave digging and butchery were called “hinin” or “non hunmans”. Then there were the remaining people in society that no civilization – ancient or modern could survive without – like prostitutes and beggars who were the “eta” or “filthy”. This social class system was called “mibunsei” and was strictly enforced by the Shogun and his officials.
Witnessing a Crime
Seikei and his father are on their way to the capital to do business when they stop at an in to rest. During the night Seikei witnesses a strange phenomenon and by daylight the inn is a a crime scene as a Samurai lord staying at the inn reports a priceless item missing and everyone is a suspect. The crime is reported and Judge Ooka a mature samurai and servant of the shogun arrives to investigate. This is where Seikei’s adventure full of action and intrigue begins and as the reader explores it further is treated to Japanese history and culture lessons that are put in a way that is more enjoyable than any text book could.
The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn is highly recommend for mystery lovers and a must read for Japan enthusiasts interested in Edo period history. Can’t wait to dive into the next book in the series which is entitled The Demon in the Teahouse.
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