Disemboweled Tradition in Seishi Yokomizo’s The Honjin Murders (1946)

Author: Xinnia Ejaz, Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan
Email: xinnia.ejaz@yahoo.com
Published: November 24, 2023

Citation: Ejaz, X. (2023). Disemboweled Tradition in Seishi Yokomizo’s The Honjin Murders (1946). IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.12.2.01


This research paper examines Seishi Yokomizo’s first postwar detective novel, The Honjin Murders (1946), which scrutinizes Japanese culture and society, specifically the rural area. This study engages in a thematic analysis of the novel within the context of Japan’s experience with the Meiji Enlightenment, the decline of feudalism, the import of Western detective literature, and Japan’s postwar shift to democracy. By placing the murder mystery genre in a feudal milieu as the characters struggle to grapple with changing times, Yokomizo enacts the transition of a traditional society into its progression to a modern one. Looking at honor entwined with the act of hara-kiri or seppuku and the contention between traditional and contemporary values, it is found that tradition itself has broken down with the family structure of the Ichiyanagi family as its symbolic representation. While the head of the family, Kenzo Ichiyanagi, has the appearance of a rational individual, he is wrought with the ambivalence of his rural and urban identities; thus, the only true herald of modernity present within the rural boundary is the detective Kosuke Kindaichi.


Japanese detective fiction, The Honjin Murders, seppuku, honor, traditional values, modernity