Idolmaker opens as the head priest at the Tabata Shrine gazes out on a courtyard garden just like this, troubled by an evil that has just intruded on his peaceful life.
He lives in an old house on the grounds of his shrine, with plaster walls, a thatched roof…
…and an antique kamidana shrine presiding over the main room.
A lovely garden with a koi pond is on the grounds…
…and the sanctuary is built of plain cedar, embellished with lacquer and gold.
His shrine is old, so it also has a fireproof treasure house, where valuables are stored.
Among them is an Edo-era kimono, embroidered and dyed with ancient techniques.
Many weddings have been performed over the centuries before the shrine’s altar.
Clad in the traditional white hood and three-layered wedding kimono…
…the next bride joins the groom and their families as they follow the assistant priests and shrine maidens to take their places.
But while they await the head priest’s arrival, a devastating earthquake and tsunami turns their world upside down.
Police Detective Kenji Nakamura’s bitter thoughts are interrupted when the earthquake rings the bell at a nearby shrine.
Alarmed by the size of the quake, he hurries to the Komagome Police Station, knowing he’ll be needed in the aftermath.
Sent out to investigate an earthquake casualty, the case quickly turns to homicide, and one of Japan’s most idolized pop stars is implicated.
But the idol couldn’t have been involved…because she died in the tsunami.
Meanwhile, Yumi Hata meets up with her Gothic Lolita friends, who wear outfits like this one to help clean up their favorite watering hole after the earthquake.
A fan of the dead pop star, Yumi becomes entangled in Kenji’s investigation after going to a memorial vigil for the idols in Yoyogi Park.
In pursuit of the killer, Yumi and Kenji end up in some strange places and cross paths with some interesting characters. Let’s meet their real counterparts!
The rockabilly clubs gather in Yoyogi Park every Sunday afternoon…
…dancing for hours…
…each one taking his turn in the spotlight…
…wearing their club uniforms, so everyone knows they’re known as the Strangers.
Other performers hone their skills in the park, like actor Hiroyuki Ootomo, who performs rakugo – traditional Japanese storytelling.
In rakugo, one actor sits on stage and plays every part, often switching between them quickly in conversation.
People in Tokyo wear flu masks to avoid spreading or receiving germs from others. The especially germ-phobic character in the book wears a fancy one like this.
The investigation winds through this tunnel…
…to the Zeniarai Benten Shrine in Kamakura, where visitors can leave eggs for the snake goddess Benten.
One of the most scenic shrines in Japan, it’s in a hidden grotto lined with ferns and waterfalls.
A clothing boutiques for dogs makes an appearance…
…as well as the Suitengu Shrine, famous for helping pregnant women.
The comic book-lined halls of the Gran Cyber Café Bagus in Shibuya…
…lead to the net café’s cubicles, where anyone can go online in privacy…
…or spend the night when stranded far from home.
This is a photo of the destruction after the March 2011 tsunami in Tohoku. The surge lifted huge boats and dropped them far inland.
In Idolmaker, the Oedo Onsen is pressed into service as a refugee center…
…and volunteers dispensing phone charging, hot tea, medical supplies and other necessities take over the game booths.
In the book, the restaurants lining the “town square” band together and feed the refugees with whatever supplies arrive each day by fishing boat.
The Ferris wheel becomes a sinister meeting place…
…behind the Zepp Tokyo club, where a huge concert is planned to benefit the earthquake victims.
Inside the concert hall, the promoter sits front and center in the balcony…
…while Yumi and Kenji race the killer to discover why a toy airgun that’s being used as a prop by one of the performers…
…is a dead ringer for the real one used in a murder a few days after the tsunami.
Will they figure it out before the killer strikes again?
Here’s how fun and easy it would be to lead your book club in a discussion about Idolmaker!
• Choose some questions from the Book Club Hot Topics discussion questions.
• Become an instant expert on exotic subjects by reading a few blog posts:
Boy In Pink Hair And Eyeliner
Dancing With The Fangirls
Japan Earthquake, Two Years Later: Before and After
Yoyogi Park: The Best Free Entertainment In Tokyo
All About Rakugo: Sit Down, Stand Up
Slackline in Yoyogi Park
Oedo Onsen: The Hot Spring Theme Park
• Bring along this slide show (images fill the screen and you click to advance the slides) or use the Idolmaker automatic slideshow (images are smaller and cycle through by themselves).
• Read the first few chapters of Idolmaker to see if your group might like the book.
Buy Idolmaker from these online booksellers $4.99 (£2.66 in the UK, €2.77 in Europe, ¥378 in Japan)
To show these images as a presentation-size slideshow:
• Click on the first image. It will fill the window, with the caption at the bottom.
• Advance the slides manually by clicking on the arrow that appears at the right of the picture when your cursor touches it.
• To exit, click on the X in the upper left corner.
Don’t have a Kindle? Fear not! You can read ebooks just as easily on devices you already use every day! Here are easy directions and links to free apps to get you up and reading in less than five minutes: How To Read eBooks Without A Kindle
Other books in the series:
Book #1 Nightshade
Book #2 Fallen Angel