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Translating this SP took a long time, and required a lot of re-checking since I really wanted to get this right. This is one of Japan's most famous mysteries after all. And as far as I know, no one has translated the novel in English, and this particular adaptation is the closest one ever made to the original story. The language itself is difficult, since the characters are talking in old jargon, plus the dialect (a friend said it's hard even for the ordinary Japanese person). But even if I checked and rechecked my subs a number of times, I'm sure it's still not perfect, and some of you may not even like how I choose to translate some of the words and lines.

Here are are now my notes regarding Gokumontou but...
Warning 1: Spoilers ahead!!
Warning 2: Brace yourself, these notes are embarrassingly long and full of ramblings haha
Warning 3: Please remember that I did not read the novel; much of these were taken from internet research.

The Novel. "Gokumontou", (also "Gokumon-to") [獄門島] was written by Yokomizu Seishi, serialized in a magazine called "Hoseki" from 1947-1948, and was published as a whole book in 1971. It was Yokomizu's second mystery featuring the character of Kindaichi Kosuke (the first was "Honjin Murder Case"). According to accounts made by Yokomizu, he first came up with the story during the war when he (who was originally from Kobe) evacuated with his family to his parents' hometown in Okayama Prefecture in 1945. Although he did not venture into the nearby islands of the Seto Inland Sea (he reportedly had phobia of vehicles, and preferred to stay at home), he managed to learn about the islanders' ways through a teacher he met who had taught at a school there. He said he would let his wife hear (or read?) his ideas for the story. When his wife pointed out (probably in jest) an unlikely character to be the culprit, Yokomizu initially thought how ridiculous that angle would make but then, later on, decided to go for that direction. He also received some help from friends who were die-hard fans of detective fiction. One of these friends from Kobe sent him mystery pocketbooks that GI soldiers disposed of in second-hand bookstores. One of these books was Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" that has an island setting. This greatly influenced Yokomizu to come up with a similar story. Also, the reason he used "haiku" was because he could not find Japanese children songs (similar to "Ten Little Indians") that has lyrics which could be used in a murder setting. Another novel that said to have influenced Yokomizu (in coming up with the "kichigai" line) was Ellery Queens' "The Tragedy of Y".

Adaptations. The story was first adapted into a movie in 1949 that starred Kataoka Chiezo (who wore a Western suit instead of Kindaichi's signature kimono). Another popular film adaptation was Kon Ichikawa's 1977 movie that had a different ending (because a 4-part TV drama was shown already earlier in the same year). The film starred Ishizaka Koji (as Kindaichi) who is currently the lead star in TV Asahi's midday drama series "Yasuragi no Sato". Meanwhile the Kindaichi of the 1977 TV version (you can watch it starting HERE) was portrayed by Furuya Ikko (now playing the Grandpa in the current asadora, Hiyokko).

Musume Dojou-ji [娘道成寺].
The Noh play that was featured in this story. You can read the synopsis HERE. You can also watch the performance HERE, the getting inside the bell scene starts at around 8:00.

The Island.
Gokumon-tou means "Prison Gate Island" (the movie's title in English was "Hell's Gate Island", probably because it sounds more ominous that way). The island is of course fiction, with Yokomizu probably deriving it from his imagination and/or stories he had heard from people in the area (they say it was based on one of the Kasaoka islands of Mushima). According to the story, the island was a meeting place for sea pirates in the area, particularly the northern part which they called "Kitamon" or "north gate". So the island was called "Kitamon Island". Then, the island became an enclave territory of a certain daimyo during the Edo Period. By that time, the island was covered with red pines and populated by descendants of pirates, making their living as fishermen. The name of the island came about when the daimyo decided to turn the island into an exile island for convicts, thus further acquiring a sinister reputation. Convicts married the islanders who were the offspring of pirates, and by the time the story happened, its residents were viewed as having been "descended from pirates and criminals".
(info: webry)

The Controversial Line:
"Kichigai ja ga shikataganai" [きちがいじゃが仕方がない]. This was the line Kindaichi heard that was uttered by head priest Ryonen while the latter was chanting prayers, right after discovering the hanging body of Hanako.
Kichigai [気違い]. Kindaichi misunderstood the line and thought the priest said "(He's) crazy, but it can't be helped". "Kichigai" or "insane" is known as an offensive word, or maybe politically incorrect. Closest Western version of it is probably "retard". Ki [気] + chigai [違い] literally means "has a weird or different disposition/nature" or "acts differently than normal". The word had been banned on TV, that is why the line from the bell scene had been altered to make it fit for broadcast. This 2016 SP was the first TV adaptation that retained the original line. In the said scene, Kindaichi thought the murderer was Yosamatsu, that the priest was covering for him, and that since Yosamatsu was insane, it can't be helped that this incident happened. However, in the book, Kindaichi was puzzled regarding how the priest used the word and felt that the wording of his sentence was weird. Instead of "Kichigai ja ga" (It's insane but...), the priest should have said, "Kichigai dakara shikataganai" (Because [he's] insane, it can't be helped").
Kichigai [季違い]. This was the word that the priest meant. It is a haiku term, relatively unknown to people like Kindaichi, who are not familiar with haiku. It means "seasonal difference" (the "ki" [季 ] means "season" + "chigai" or "different"). So what the priest really saying was, "It is "kichigai" (wrong season) but it can't be helped" pertaining to the spring setting of the haiku used in the murder. In the original story, one of the characters taught Kindaichi about haiku, and explained the word "kidai" [季題] or "seasonal word in haiku". This is how the detective put two and two together, or in this case, the "ki [き]" and "ki [季]" together.

The Haiku.
The haiku mentioned were from Basho and Kikaku. The three poems framed in the folding screen were handwritten by the Kitou patriarch Kaemon, who was paralyzed, that is why the writing was messy, and Kindaichi had a difficult time reading it. With the help of the islanders quoting the poems and dropping hints, the haiku-clueless Kindaichi was finally able to connect the dots:
"Uguisu no mi o saka-sama ni hatsune ka na" [鶯の身をさかさまに初音かな] by Kikaku. "Upside down, a nightingale, sings its first song". The first poem was about a bird chirping while perched upside down from a branch ("uguiso" could either be a bush warbler or a Japanese nightingale). In the poem, Kikaku wonders if it's singing its first song for the spring.
"Muza n'ya na kabuto no shita no kirigirisu" [むざんやな冑の下のきりぎりす] by Basho. "A tragic warrior's helmet, with a cricket underneath". It is said that Basho is referring to the head gear/helmet owned by Sanemori Saito, a samurai who died wearing it in a battle. That is why the helmet is described as "tragic" or "muzanya". In his travels, Basho visited the Tada Shrine in Komatsu, Ishikawa Prefecture, where the helmet was displayed at the altar, and chanced upon an insect below it ("kirigirisu" could mean grasshopper or cricket).
"Hitotsu-ya ni yūjo mo ne tari hagi to tsuki" [一つ家に遊女も寝たり萩と月] by Basho. "Under the same roof, a prostitute too is asleep, bush clover and moon". Many are debating that this might be fiction, that Basho did not stay at an inn with a yujo or prostitute, since his travel companion Sora did not record any such thing in his diary. Or that maybe Basho was talking about another person who did, and that "hitotsuya" did not mean "under one roof" but "detached house" instead.
(info: yamanashi-ken, basho)

The Branch Kitou Families.
There were two branch families, the official one "Bun Kitou" (Hitoshi and Sanae), and the unofficial one, "Wake Kitou" (Gihee and his wife Shiho). [分] is read as "Bun" but in order to differentiate Kitou Gihee's side from Sanae's side, the former was called "wake" which also means [分]. I had a difficult time coming up with a word for "Wake Kitou" in English (I could have used the original Japanese word but I only do so if there is really and absolutely no other choice). Since Sanae's side is known as the "Branch Family", I had to find another apt word for the Wake Kitou that makes it sound they're from the same family but then again, not really lol. In the end I chose, "Outer Kitou". Like, they're still a part but in the fringes or outermost branch of the family tree. In the original story, it wasn't explained how the Hon Kitou (Main Family) was related to the Wake Kitou.

Amimoto [網元]. It means Fishermen's Master or boss, who owns fishery rights, fishing nets, boats, and equipment and rent them to fishermen. In exchange for their catch, the amimoto will give them monetary compensation, similar to a landlord and farmer feudalistic system. The amimoto also became powerful, exerting control over political, economic, and cultural aspects of a fishing village. The main amimoto in Gokumonto is the Kitou family, while the Wake Kitou is considered a small-time amimoto. Another amimoto was the Tomoeya, which was Shiho's family that went bankrupt. Not much was said about it in the story but readers surmised that the Tomoeya were friends with Kitou Kaemon at first, and that their children (Chimata and Shiho) were supposed to be married. But there was probably some sort of falling out, and ties were cut. Also, it was theorized that maybe Kaemon was instrumental in bringing down the Tomoeya business, which eventually led to the deaths of Shiho's parents, hence, explaining why Shiho hated the Main Family so much.

"Are you surprised?"
This was said by Tsukiyo when she showed up in front of Kindaichi and Sanae dressed in priestess clothes. It wasn't mentioned in the subs, but the clothes of course belonged to her mother O-Sayo, and the look of surprise on Sanae's face means this was the first time she had seen it being worn again since O-Sayo's death. Tsukiyo, being the eldest, probably had the most memories of her mother, and since she was supposed to be O-Sayo's successor, she was taught her mother's chants and prayers when she was little.

The Honjin Murder Case.
It was Kindaichi's first of his many cases, set before the war. For the plot, go HERE. In the story, the case made headlines, and earned Kindaichi nation-wide fame. But when he went to Gokumontou, he did not tell anyone (or maybe just one, not sure) about his identity as a detective. That is why police officer Shimizu asked him, "Why are you involving yourself (so much) in this (case)?"

Issues of the Time.
One unique feature of the story was how Yokomizu showed the turmoil of the post-war times. These include the pirates preying on boats. These were actually discharged soldiers who banded together after the war. Another was demobilization fraud ("fukuin sagi" [復員詐欺]) or scam of discharged soldiers taking advantage of families hungering for news from their sons who went to war. Actual demobilization radio shows (which Sanae listens to for news of her brother Hitoshi) were also mentioned like "Fukuinda Yori" and "Kamukamu no Jikan".

Stuff not discussed much in the SP.

Shiho. She was actually 40 years younger than her husband Gihee (in the SP, it was 30 years). Shiho wanted Ukai to marry Tsukiyo who was the eldest and possible successor of the house, if ever Chimata and Hitoshi perish in the war, so that Shiho could finally have control of the main house. Seeing that the sisters were being killed off one by one, it dashed her hopes for vengeance, and led to her eventual mental breakdown in the SP. This is also why Ukai was "fired" in the end, because she has no use for him anymore, now that the sisters are all dead.
Missing characters. In the original story, Kaemon had a mistress whose name was O-Katsu. She resides in the same house, and helps Sanae handle and oversee the household chores. There was also the barber named Seiko, one of the two people who supplied Kindaichi (the other is Suzuki) with information and gossip about the main family, and island life.
Other stuff that wasn't mentioned: The bell was taken by the war, supposed to be melted down for bullets, but somehow it did not push through. The successor Kitou Chimata died of malaria on the boat on their way home. Yosamatsu was violent when he sees his daughters and other people, but calms down when he sees Sanae. It was Yosamatsu who had the prayer place built for his lover O-Sayo. The wayside shrine, where Hanako was killed, was actually big enough for a person to get inside so Hanako was hiding inside it, and not behind it.

The Next Case. In the ending scene, Kindaichi received a telegram (hopefully foreshadowing into a possible Part 2?) that says, "The Devil Comes, Playing the Flute, Help me, Todoroki". It is a reference to his next case "The Devil Comes, Playing the Flute" (Akuma ga Kitarite Fue wo Fuku) which takes place in Tokyo a year after the "Gokumontou" incident. Synopsis HERE. The most recent adaptation of this was an SP in 2007 starring Inagaki Goro as Kindaichi. The one who sent the telegram was Todoroki Daishi, a police detective from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

Changes and Alternate Endings in Past Adaptations.
As I had mentioned, the "kichigai" line was either altered or omitted altogether in the past adaptations since it wasn't fit for broadcasting (Note: it was retained in the 1977 movie but was bleeped out when shown on TV). Aside from that, the other changes include: Kindaichi did not go to war, and it was another friend who was the war buddy of Chimata that asked him to go to Gokumontou; Yosamatsu was only depressed, not insane, and in the end, he recovered, vowing to take over the house along with Sanae's help; the culprits, the Mayor and Dr. Koan committed suicide when they heard the priest died of a heart attack. In the 1977 movie, the culprits were the priest and Kaemon's mistress O-Katsu (who was the real mother of Sanae, making Sanae a direct heir to the house); the sisters were triplets, and not born a year apart.
In this SP, the added change was Kindaichi's meltdown at the end. The writer obviously took into consideration Kindaichi's sensitive mental state and powerlessness after the war and factored it into his anger, frustration, and guilt at being unable to fulfill his dead friend's wish.

Ukai's Letter and other questions.
All in all, the story may not be perfect and there are some questionable things in the story, but for me, the messiest of them all was Ukai's letter. In the SP (as well as implied by the original story), the letter was made up by the priest, and used it to bait one of the sisters. Then why didn't they arrest Ukai since he "wrote" the letter, or at least, questioned him further about it, especially what happened to his plan to meet at the temple. All of these were left unanswered or glossed over. In the 1977 movie, it was explained that Ukai indeed wrote the letter but he left the temple when Tsukiyo did not show up, and that the priest happened to see Hanako hiding in the wayside shrine, and killed her later on. In this latest SP, just as told in the original story, it was the head priest who wrote the letter, but when Kindaichi questioned Ukai, the young man lied saying he wrote it to protect Shiho. But Gihee admitted it was Shiho who had been writing the letters. I'm guessing that She probably even deposited the letters in the tree herself, and Ukai never saw the letters himself and were only told about it by Shiho. That is why Ukai did not know if the letter found in the crime scene was genuine or not. Kindaichi also cannot question Shiho because she was acting crazy at that moment.
When it comes to Yukie's death, she was killed by the Mayor somewhere outside the mansion. How he was able to lure her out of the house? Maybe using Ukai again? But I'm sure the priest and the doctor helped him carry the body, the rod, and the fake bell up to Goblin's Nose.
Another thing that wasn't discussed was: how did Koan know Tsukiyo will use the prayer place that night? He had to place the towel there beforehand. I don't think he can do that with just one hand though. He had to have some help. Could it be he or the others whispered to Tsukiyo to pray at the detached house?

Hasegawa Hiroshi as Kindaichi Kosuke
(I somehow love this cool-scary shot of him;
only thing lacking here is a sword, and it would
have made a bad-ass action Samurai thriller)

And lastly, Kindaichi Kosuke. I wanted to write about this famous character but I don't have the energy anymore since it's going to be so long (this post is already long enough) that it deserves a separate post. I don't know if I can make one but I guess I will only do so if there will be a Part 2 Special (I hope so! *fingers crossed*) that still stars Hasegawa Hiroshi (I love him! I am ashamed to admit that I arrived late for the Hasegawa Appreciation Party, since I have never watched any of his dramas until now m(_ _)m).

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