Susan Spann

Mystery Author

The latest entry in the thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo!

“A compelling mystery powered by political intrigue and cultural conflicts.”–Lisa Brackmann, New York Times bestselling author of Go-Between and Rock Paper Tiger.

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The Ninja’s Daughter

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace—but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

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  • A Visit to Ryuanji (Osaka, Japan)

    Ryuanji is a Buddhist temple located in Minō Park, just north of Osaka.

    Ryuanji Entrance (1)

    The temple itself lies about a 25 minute walk from the park entrance, on the path that leads to Minō Falls (one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls, and the reason many people visit Minō Park).

    Ryuanji Bridge

    Originally founded in 650 by an ascetic monk named En no Gyoja, Ryuanji is also the home to one of the oldest statues of Benzaiten (the goddess of music, fortune, and knowledge) in Japan. Although originally known as Minō-dera, the temple is now known as Ryuanji. It has been a functioning Buddhist temple continually since the 7th century.

    Ryuanji and bridge.

    Although I didn’t have the chance to see the Benzaiten statue the day I visited, I did spend time on the temple grounds, appreciating the architecture and the exterior statues, including this lantern (toro):

    Ryuanji Lantern

    Which features a dragon and three familiar monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil) carved in relief around its base:

    Ryuanji Lantern Base

    I also appreciated the lichen-encrusted guardians watching over the temple entrance:

    Ryuanji Guardian (Left)

    Like many temple guardians in Japan, they were simultaneously familiar and unique:

    Ryuanji Guardian (Right)

    Although the temple is fairly small compared with some of the enormous precincts in Japan’s major cities, Ryuanji is a lovely, quiet place to rest and meditate, and I’ll definitely visit again, the next time I’m in the Osaka area.