Photo/IllutrationManuscripts for “Yukiwariso” by Seishi Yokomizo housed at Nishogakusha University in Tokyo’s Kudanshita district (Mariko Nakamura)

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Detective work has found the missing chunks of a rare romance novel that was written by a famed detective novelist and was originally published 77 years ago.

Little had been known about Seishi Yokomizo's (1902-1981) “Yukiwariso” as only a small number of manuscript sheets had been left in storage and the publication that ran the novel had not been identified. But two experts discovered it was published in serial form in a newspaper in 1941, according to officials of Nishogakusha University in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.

“Yukiwariso” will be published in a book form from Ebisukosyo Publication Co. in February.

It's exciting news for Yokomizo fans as the male protagonist of the story is associated with Kosuke Kindaichi, a private detective who appears in many of the novelist's most popular works including “Yatsuhakamura” (The village of eight graves) and “Inugami-ke no Ichizoku” (The Inugami clan).

Eleven manuscript sheets for six installments of “Yukiwariso” had been stored at Nishogakusha University while 15 pages for two installments were housed at the Setagaya Literary Museum in Tokyo. But the rest of the story was missing, primarily because experts could not identify the publication that ran the serial.

Relying on the manuscripts as the primary lead, Tadayoshi Yamaguchi, a professor of Nishogakusha University’s Faculty of Literature, and detective novel specialist Tomoaki Hamada conducted research to determine when Yokomizo might have written the story.

The two presumed that “Yukiwariso” was written during the war when detective novels were shunned.

The literary detectives also took note of the particular type of manuscript paper and the fact that Yokomizo altered his handwriting during wartime, as well as scenes depicted in the narrative and other factors.

It occurred to Yamaguchi that the serial might have run in a local newspaper published in a snowy region because “Yukiwariso,” which is a word for the flower "hepatica” in Japanese, literally means “snow breaking grass.”

He examined local papers published in Nagano and Niigata prefectures at the National Diet Library because the writer had ties with the two prefectures.

Finally he discovered that “Yukiwariso” ran for 199 installments in the Niigata Mainichi Shimbun and its successor, Niigata Nichi Nichi Shimbun (present-day Niigata Nippo), from June to December 1941.

“Yukiwariso” is a novel written on about 800 pages of 400-character manuscript paper. Unlike most of Yokomizo's stories, it focuses on a romance, telling the story of a woman, Uiko, who comes to Tokyo from Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, and meets a young Japanese-style painter, Jingo Kagawa. The couple are soon struck by a series of tragedies.

“Put briefly, it is a melodrama,” Yamaguchi said.

Jingo is portrayed as someone “with messy, disheveled hair and wearing a shabby Japanese ‘hakama’ skirt.” His appearance resembles that of private eye Kindaichi, who first appeared in Yokomizo's “Honjin Satsujin Jiken” (The murder in the Honjin), published in 1946.

Yokomizo, too, dedicated himself to writing stories and didn’t pay attention to his looks.

“It took me by pleasant surprise, reminding me of my father and mother when I read it,” remarked Rumi Nomoto, 78, one of Yokomizo’s daughters.