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Hanshichi. Hanshichi was created by the Japanese author Kido Okamoto and appeared in sixty-eight short stories from 1917 to 1939, beginning with "Ofumi no Tamashii” (Bungei Kurabu, Jan. 1917).

Hanshichi is a Great Detective. He is a Japanese policeman and is known as “Mikawa no Hanshichi,” or Hanshichi from Mikawa prefecture.” Okamoto described Hanshichi as “a hidden Sherlock Holmes in the Edo period” (Japan from 1601-1867), but Hanshichi is not a consulting detective. Hanshichi is a meakashi (“spy,” a commoner hired to help the police) and a goyoukiki (roundsman) and okappiki (private agent), an unofficial assistant to the doshin, the officials responsible for maintaining the public peace. Hanshichi’s personality is similar to Holmes’, but Hanshichi relies more on luck and instinct than deduction, and Hanshichi occasionally deals with the supernatural, including ghosts. Hanshichi does not have one Watson, but instead has five nameless assistants who appear consistently in the stories.

* I'm including the Hanshichi stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they were, for a few decades, archetypal. The idea of an Edo era detective wasn't created by Kido Okamoto; there had been Edo era detectives in earlier Japanese films. But Kido made Hanshichi into the archetypal Edo era detective, the one that other Japanese writers were influenced by and modeled their characters on, the one that Japanese readers thought of first when they imagined Edo era detectives. It helped that Kido was a skilled writer and that he used the Sherlock Holmes mysteries as his model. 

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