The basis for this series is the legendary Judge Ooka of Japan.  He was a real, historical figure who lived in Japan during the 1700s.  He was so famous for his wisdom and judgement that legends and stories grew up around him and his unique ways of learning the truth and serving the cause of justice.

This series follows a fictional character, a boy named Seikei, who becomes Judge Ooka’s adopted son after helping him solve a mystery involving the nobility of Japan and a dangerous plot of revenge.  Seikei was actually the oldest son of a tea merchant, destined according to the traditions of feudal Japan, to become a merchant himself and take over his father’s business.  He was never happy about the idea because he greatly revered the samurai class and wished that it was possible to become one of them.  However, Judge Ooka was impressed not only with Seikei’s intelligence and bravery in helping him to solve the mystery but in his embodiment of the virtues of the samurai, despite not being raised to follow their traditions.  With the permission of Seikei’s real father, Judge Ooka adopts Seikei and continues his education, giving him the status of a samurai and the ability to live the kind of life he has always dreamed.

Seikei is able, after his adoption, to visit his birth family, although they have mixed feelings about him.  He had previously been something of a disappointment to his birth father in his disinclination to learn the family business, and his father will instead teach Seikei’s younger brother to follow in his footsteps.  Seikei’s younger brother does have more of an interest in business and enjoys the lifestyle that merchants live, but he and the rest of Seikei’s family later have need of his help to resolve some of their problems.

The stories in the series are based on Japanese history and legends.  However, they do contain violence and serious, adult topics such as religious oppression, murder, revenge, and extramarital affairs.  They would be inappropriate for anyone younger than twelve or thirteen years old, and parents might want to read these books either before their children do or along with them, depending on their age and maturity level.  These are strictly teen books!

Books in the Series:

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn

A boy who dreams of becoming a samurai has the opportunity to help a famous judge to solve a baffling mystery that involves noblemen and revenge.

The Demon in the Teahouse

Judge Ooka and Seikei search for a murderer and arsonist in Yoshiwara, the pleasure district of Edo.

In Darkness, Death

Seikei searches for a ninja who assassinated a nobleman and the mysterious person who hired him.

The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass

A Samurai Never Fears Death

Seven Paths to Death

The Red-Headed Demon