Episode 2: Japanese restaurant’s apprentice
Kaga focuses the investigation on the ningyoyaki (doll face-shaped confectionery with red bean jam) left behind at the crime scene. There are three sets of fingerprints on the ningyoyaki’s plastic container. One set belongs to the shop assistant who sold the ningyoyaki and the other set belongs to the victim. So, could the remaining set of fingerprints belong to the murderer?
It is discovered that on the day of the murder, Sasaki Shuhei, the apprentice chef at the traditional Japanese restaurant ‘Matsuya’, had bought ningyoyaki in the same assortment [ 7 : 3 ] – seven with red bean filling and three without red bean filling – and at the same shop as the ningyoyaki that had been left behind.
Kaga and Matsumiya immediately visit ‘Matsuya’. Although it is written in Ami’s article in ‘Doll Town’ that ‘Matsuya’ sells wasabi, Kaga gripes that he cannot taste its pungence. Edagawa Yoriko, the proprietress, explains, “Wasabi is a subtle flavour.” It does not assert its presence, and the ingredients are main emphasis.
Kaga requests to speak to Shuhei, and offers him a can of coffee. He asks about the ningyoyaki Shuhei bought, but Shuhei says, “I ate all the ningyoyaki and threw away the plastic container.”
Curious about the case, Shuhei opens up the newspaper after Kaga and Matsumiya leave. On the day of the incident, Shuhei had been instructed by Edagawa Taiji, Yoriko’s husband who is also the owner of ‘Matsuya’, to go and buy ningyoyaki. Furthermore, Shuhei had encountered Mitsui Mineko at the apartment building where he had delivered the ningyoyaki to Edagawa. Could Edagawa be involved in the case? Whom does the third set of fingerprints left on the ningyoyaki’s plastic container belong to …?
Kaga later appears alone at ‘Matsuya’. He tells Shuhei, who attends to him, that the third set of fingerprints on the ningyoyaki’s plastic container does not belong to him. Kaga had actually offered the can of coffee with the intention of collecting Shuhei’s fingerprints.
Yoriko brings food and launches into a description of mazuma wasabi. She delightfully tells Kaga that the wasabi her husband carefully selects and buys is the best.
Ami starts to pursue Mitsui Mineko’s case on her own. She goes to check on the apartment building that Mineko had lived in, and Shuhei appears there too. Ami takes a photograph of Shuhei and when she shows it to Kaga, he seems to notice something. However, Shuhei, who cannot quell his misgivings about Taiji, persists in lying to Kaga, “I just went to make a delivery.”
Yoriko takes a break from work and goes to a bar alone to enjoy a glass of alcohol. As if sensing that she is being watched, she turns around in her seat and finds Kaga sitting at a table behind her. Kaga asks to join her. He tells Yoriko that the ningyoyaki found in Mineko’s apartment contained wasabi, and that Taiji was enjoying himself at a Ginza club. Yoriko smiles meaningfully, but he does not know what she is hiding.
At that moment, the investigation task force led by Kojima has suspicions about the nature of the relationship between Taiji and Mineko. The fingerprints on the container neither belong to Taiji nor Shuhei … Grudge emerges as a motive and their suspicion is shifted to Yuriko.
Matsumiya heads to ‘Matsuya’ accompanied by detectives, but Kaga is already there. He has uncovered the entire mystery.
The third set of fingerprints on the ningyoyaki’s plastic container belongs to Yoriko. As a matter of fact, Taiji has a lover called Asami. She is a Ginza club hostess and lives at the same apartment building as Mineko. Because Asami told Taiji that she likes ningyoyaki, he would make Shuhei buy ningyoyaki as a present each time. However, that is just lip service on Asami’s part. As a result, Asami would pass the ningyoyaki that she received by the bagful to Mineko.
Using a private investigator, Yoriko had found out about her husband’s lover and tried to punish him by putting wasabi in the ningyoyaki.
She had ventured to use mazuma wasabi because she wanted Taiji to know that she cherished what he had told her when they first got married. He had said, “You’re the best woman, just like mazuma wasabi.” To this childless couple, ‘Matsuya’ is their child …
Kaga has solved the ningyoyaki mystery impressively.
At the task force, the dour-faced Uesugi Hiroshi tells Kaga not to spend time on “matters unrelated to the case”. Uesugi himself has honed in on Mineko’s family – Kiyose Naohiro who had divorced Mineko; and Koki, who together with Ami, is told of his mother’s death by Kishida Yosaku, the tax accountant of his father’s company. What was Mineko’s real reason for living at Kodenma-cho which is around the corner from Ningyo-cho?
There are still many hidden mysteries regarding the murder of Mitsui Mineko …
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