The Strangled Corpse by KYŪSAKU YUMENO

Introduction and translated from the Japanese by Sacha Idell

Kyūsaku Yumeno (1889–1936) was the pen name of the Japanese writer Taidō Sugiyama. Celebrated in Japan as one of the country’s first avant-garde writers, Yumeno is notorious for his invocations of Occidental imagery, as well as his penchant for unusual, often downright bizarre, detective stories. His magnum opus, the experimental mystery novel Dogura Magura, was adapted to film in the 1980s. He died suddenly, leaving several works unfinished, in 1936.

I am on a bench in a park, somewhere, and before my eyes the stream of a fountain rises and falls, falls and rises in the twilight. As I listen to its sound, I spread and unfold the evening paper. And, looking through the paper for the same story as always, I roll a Golden Bat cigarette and laugh.

The article I’ve been searching for is related to the poor young girl from the suburbs, the one I strangled in an abandoned house nearly a month prior.
Once, I felt that she and I were profoundly in love, but one evening, when we arranged to meet, the sight of her, with her furisode kimono and almost peach-like hairstyle, so in fashion right now—it was all just too much, too beautiful for me; I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t bear it, and so I brought her to the suburbs, by the x x train crossing, to a solitary, detached building. And when I killed her, still surprised and unsuspecting, I must admit that I felt a profound sense of unburdening. It was as though I had become a madman for only an instant. Or so I can’t help but think.

Afterward, I took the waistband of her clothing, and, attaching it to the top of a sliding door, arranged the scene to look as though she had committed suicide by hanging. And, ever since then, when I returned to my boarding house determined to survive, I’ve come to this park twice each day, and bought the newspaper, the morning and evening edition, and sat at this bench to read. It’s become my only habit.

I’ve been expecting an explosive headline: FURISODE GIRL’S HANGING SUICIDE! Or something along those lines.

And so I check and check again, the pure blue of the sky above that abandoned house hovering over me, laughing derisively, as the newspapers consume my routine.

Even now, my world revolves around them. I fold up the newspaper, roll another Bat, and beneath this gray, clouded sky, I head in the direction of home. Trapped in the same feelings as always, I strike a match, and by chance I see a page from a newspaper on the ground. An article takes my breath away.

It is unmistakably the same evening paper, with the same date as today, but someone else must have abandoned it on this bench. And yet, in the center of the page is an article I hadn’t noticed, a big scoop that draws my eyes with electric magnetism.


At a deserted house in the neighborhood by x x train crossing, a half-month-old skeleton has been found! The body is a young man in a business suit!

I seize the article and, as if in a daze, fly from the park. Before long, without knowing how I arrived, I find myself in the neighborhood by x x train crossing, overcome with confusion as I stand before a particularly memorable abandoned house.

I realize I’m clutching the newspaper in one hand, and stare at the headline, and then at the house. Carefully looking up and down the street to make certain no one is watching, I open the front door and step inside.
Within the empty house it is almost completely dark. Inside the eight-mat tatami room where the young girl’s body hangs I walk to the center and strike a match . . .

“. . .”

. . .and before me is a corpse that is unmistakably my own.

The body is hung with the band of a furisode, a Bat in its mouth, newspaper in its right hand, and match in its left.

The shock is too much. The rest of my energy has left me and gone somewhere far from here. As the ember falls from my match and tumbles toward the floor. . .this must be some scheme, a trick concocted by the police. . .my mind continues to race until I hear the laughter of a young woman come from the darkness behind me.

There was no discrepancy between it and the voice of the young woman I strangled.

“O ho ho ho ho. . .I see you’ve come to understand how I felt.”