The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn Book Poster Image

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn

Historical details add depth to gripping mystery.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Several beheadings, rather gory, and ritual suicides, which are spoken of as honorable.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink and get drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, as is historically accurate, the ritualized suicide known as seppuku is treated as an honorable act. In fact, there are several incidents of seppuku in this story, along with beheadings, a few of which are rather gory.

What's the story?

Seikei, son of a tea merchant in 18th century Japan, dreams of being a samurai and poet. But in the strictly ordered class system of the time this is impossible -- he can only look forward to following in his father's footsteps, a life for which he has little aptitude or interest.

While staying at the Tokaido Inn with his father during a business trip, Seikei sees what he believes to be a ghost steal a ruby belonging to a powerful and ruthless lord. When he speaks up to defend a family unjustly accused of the theft, Judge Ooka is impressed with his courage, and employs him to help track down the real thief, launching a journey that takes him into the world of the Kabuki theater.

Is it any good?


Readers will find this story about a young boy who wants to be a samurai both an engaging mystery and an intriguing introduction to the historical and cultural details of shogun-era Japan. The Way of the Warrior (Bushido); poetry; tea tasting and ceremonies; the complexities of Kabuki theater; the difficulties of travel; and lots more are lovingly detailed by the authors, and may prompt kids to want to learn more about this fascinating era.

Seikei himself is an appealing protagonist. Torn between what he wants and what is expected of him, he is fearful yet courageous, uncertain yet determined, and the resolution of both the mystery and his path in life is satisfying indeed. The bottom line: This is a treat that kids will both love -- and learn from.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the concept of social classes. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the class system? Why can't Seikei become a samurai if he wants to? Why would anyone want to become a samurai anyway, and what does that tell us about this culture? Why would only samurai write poetry?

Book details

Authors:Dorothy Hoobler, Thomas Hoobler
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:April 14, 2006
Number of pages:214
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 14

This review of The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn was written by

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Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul April 9, 2008

wow, it took them awhile to review this...

I remember reading this book in around fourth grade. I really kied it back then, and is still pretty good going back as a teen. There is only one questionable part, which is a character's beheading (I won't say who's). Other than tht, i think the book is fine. Enjoy.
Adult Written byDeitrik February 15, 2010

Great for the younger kids: Great moral value and fun to read :)

Great book to learn from. For the longest time I have been searching for this book after many years from reading it and forgetting the title. Finally found it again and I still love it. Very educational and historically correct on the era. But what I loved most was the moral value. I, personally, took many things to heart and believe that morals like these aren't stressed enough on our society today. It was a very moving book for me and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to express how I feel about it
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old October 23, 2015

Good for kids

It has deaths but not that much. Not that much drinking. Really spiritual and has a lot of depth