“My next shōnin (証人, witness),” intones the corpulent kensatsukan (検察官, prosecutor), “is Mr. Toshi Saito. Mazu (まず, first of all), please tell the court, Mr. Saito, what your kankei (関係, relationship) was with the hikokunin (被告人, defendant), Yasuo Yamazaki.”

“He was my friend.”

Reiko Keyes, from her seat among the six saibanin (裁判員, lay judges), observes the witness closely. He is clearly kinchō (緊張, nervous). He shifts uncomfortably in the witness box. His face twitches.

Dono gurai mae kara no shiriai desu ka (どのぐらい前からの知り合いですか, How long have you known each other)?”

Shōgakkō ichinensei kara (小学校一年生から, Since first grade).”

“You were shitashii tomodachi (親しい友達, close friends)?”


Kenka shimashita ka (喧嘩しましたか, Had you quarreled)?”


“And yet on July 5, 2009, three weeks before the satsujin (殺人, murder) of Sayuri Fukuda, you went to your kinjo no kōban (近所の交番, neighborhood police box) concerning the hikokunin Yamazaki. Is that correct?”



“Well, he seemed … I don’t know .. toritsukareta (取り付かれた, obsessed) by Fukuda-san. He couldn’t talk of anything else. He seemed … almost … kurutte iru (狂っている, crazy). I was afraid …”

“Of what, Mr. Saito?”

“That he might … might …”

Korosu (殺す, kill her)?”

The young bengonin (弁護人, defense lawyer) springs to his feet, spectacles flashing. “Igi ari (異議あり, objection)! Yūdōjinmon (誘導尋問, leading question)!”

Igi wo mitomemasu (異議を認めます, Objection sustained),” says Tazawa saibanchō (田沢裁判長, Chief Judge Tazawa). “Please let the witness answer the question in his own words.”

“Yes,” murmurs Saito, me wo sorashinagara (目をそらしながら, averting his eyes). “I was afraid he might kill her.”

Ijō desu (以上です, that’s all),” says the prosecutor, mopping his perspiring brow as he resumes his seat.

The bengonin rises for his hantai jinmon (反対尋問, cross-examination). “You say you were afraid he might kill her. Did you speak to anyone else about this fear, Mr. Saito, before you went to the police?


“Not, for example, to your seishinka’i (精神科医, psychiatrist)? You are under the care of a seishinka’i, Mr. Saito, are you not?”


“Did you sōdan suru (相談する, consult) him about the matter first?”

“No, I …”

Ijō desu!”

A mazing. I return to the living room to find them, the old lady and the little girl, my senile mother-in-law and my 10-year-old daughter, still looking at photographs.

“Look, Stuart, here’s me at your age. Just see what a bijin (美人, beautiful woman) I was!”

“My age, eh? How old do you think I am?”

“Twenty-three” ? at which she bursts into a schoolgirlish kusukusu warai (クスクス笑い, giggle) while I try not to wince.

“When would this have been taken?” I ask.

“In Genrokuū go-nen (元禄五年, the fifth year of Genroku).”

Is she joking? Genroku go-nen was 1692. Well, never mind. Ah, Reiko, you’re back. How was your day in court?”

“I’m tsukarehateta (疲れ果てた, dead tired).”

“Kimika, take your mother’s coat. Sit down, I’ll bring you some tea.”

“Reiko-chan, nemutai (眠たい, I’m sleepy).”

“Come grandmother,” says Kimika, taking charge as usual where the old lady is concerned. “I’ll put you to bed and read you a story, shall I?” Astonishing. There are depths in that child that it will take me a lifetime to plumb.

“Did you hear from the college?” asks Reiko.

“I heard from the college,” I echo ? mocking what? Her, or my pleasure in her interest? Never mind. “They’ve offered me two courses to start with, and I’ve accepted. My time as a shitsugyōsha (失業者, unemployed person) is over.”

“That’s wonderful.”

“Until, of course, they kubi ni suruū (首にする, fire me) again.”

“What two courses?”

Edo jidai (江戸時代, Edo Period, 1603-1867) history and Heian jidai (平安時代, Heian Period, 794-1185) lit.”

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