Hidden References in the Classics Club

Yonezawa-san likes to play little “pranks” in his works. This exhaustive public reveal of hidden references in the series even includes those in the last two volumes, and will make you go “Ohh”, “I see!” or “Seriously?” while nodding your head in agreement. We shall now introduce these various references, with comments from Yonezawa-san himself. (Sentences between inverted commas are comments from Honobu Yonezawa, while those not between inverted commas are from the author of this article, who is not named. Also, page numbers are based on the Japanese volumes.)


The Exponential Clans (Chapter 2, Page 26) – About the Juumonji (十文字) Clan that runs the Arekusu Shrine, the Sarusuberi (百日紅) Clan that operates the bookstores, the Chitanda (千反田) Clan with their large farmlands, and the Manninbashi (万人橋) Clan of the mountain.

“About the origin of the clan names, the cyclist Takanobu Juumonji’s name suddenly came to my mind. With Chitanda’s ‘Thousand’ character and Juumonji’s ‘Ten’ character…… I decided to create names starting with ‘Ten’, ‘Hundred’, ‘Thousand’, ‘Ten Thousand’…… Sorry.”

Ooide Naoto (Chapter 3, Page 57) – In ‘Kamiyama High School: Walking Together for 50 Years’, a student of that name was recorded to have died in an accident on February 2, Showa Year 47. The Classics Club Advisor’s surname was also ‘Ooide’, but……

“Those who are familiar with mysteries might link the two names and think, ‘Could the latter have a motive for revenge?’ However, this is just a red herring for those who like that style of mystery. In other words, they are unrelated.”

Pineapple Sand (Chapter 4, Page 73) – The name of a café that Houtarou likes.

“I got the name from a song by Blankey Jet City, a band I really like. By the way, the song is from the album ‘Romeo no Shinzou’.”1

Temple, myu or numbers (Chapter 8, Page 208) – The title of Ibara’s article published in the Classic Club’s Hyouka anthology, about a classical manga series.“This is a reference to Keiko Takemiya’s Toward the Terra. Mu is the name of a race of advanced humans with psionic abilities. However, Oreki doesn’t know Toward the Terra, so he gets the names wrong. It’s not ‘myu’, but ‘mu’; it’s not ‘numbers’, but ‘members’. By the way, Toward the Terra makes another appearance in Page 338 of Kudryavka’s Order.

The Credit Roll of the Fool

Why didn’t they ask Eba? (Cover) – The English title Yonezawa-san came up with himself. It is a reference to Agatha Christie’s Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

“The name of Eba Kurako also stems from that story.”

Ten Commandments, Nine Propositions, Twenty Rules (Chapter 1, Page 56) – The rules of mystery writing that Mayu Hongou of class 2F studied for the sake of writing the script of their class movie. The ‘Ten Commandments’ were set by Ronald Knox, the ‘Nine Propositions’ by Raymond Chandler, and the ‘Twenty Rules’ by Van Dine. Those are rules for the fair presentation of a detective novel.

“If I were to explain everything…… there wouldn’t be enough space. Also, there isn’t really a need to follow these rules for writing a modern mystery story.”

Music (Chapter 2, Page 76; Chapter 3, Page 111; Chapter 4, Page 148) – Different groups practised music for the Cultural Festival. The Brass Band was playing Lupin III’s theme, the Japanese Music Club was playing the theme of Mito Koumon2, and the Light Music Club was playing The March of the Black Queen. The third piece is a famous piece of music from Queen’s proud history of rock music (and can be found in the Queen II album). But since it was released in 1974, is Houtarou actually quite the fan of rock?

Paperbacks with yellow book covers (Chapter 3, Page 107) – Some books that Houtarou has read.

“Those are books from the Sougen Bunko Mystery label, of course!”

Nakamura Aoi (Chapter 3, Page 118) – The name of the student from class 2F who designed the theatre used for the movie. But Houtarou didn’t read past the “Aoi” character……

“It’s Nakamura Seiji3 from Yukito Ayatsuji-sensei’s4 Mansion Murders series…… That is what I would like to say, but I cannot imagine Nakamura Seiji working on the design of a public building. It’s probably something like Nakamura Shounosuke or Seitarou (Laugh).”

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Chapter 3, Page 119) – A book that Mayu Hongou read for the sake of writing the script of their class movie.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes also made an appearance, but that was a Shincho Bunko edition. To fit the size of their books, they removed a few stories, and those stories were compiled in a volume titled ‘The Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes’. Therefore, Hongou’s list might differ a little from the original.”

Whiskey Bonbons (Chapter 4, Page 141) – Snacks that Chitanda brought for the Classics Club. Chitanda ate 7, while Houtarou ate 2.

“That exactly follows the number of chocolates eaten at the beginning of Anthony Berkeley’s Case of the Poisoned Chocolates. The victim collapsed after eating 7 chocolates, and the main character was saved because he only ate 2. Since Chitanda had 7 bonbons, she became drunk. It’s just a little bit of fun that no one understood (Laugh).”

Think of this object as an extension of myself5(Chapter 6, Page 197) – Satoshi’s words.

“This is part of the divine message that Amaterasu6 imparted to the mirror Yata no Kagami, a celestial gift out of a set of three brought by Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the grandson of Amaterasu who descended to Earth, as chronicled in the Record of Ancient Matters7.”

Satoshi is too erudite!

Kudryavka’s Order

The Eulogy of Blue (Chapter 1, Part 002 – ♣01 , Page 10) – The name of the Art Club’s exhibition for the Cultural Festival.

“I derived that name from Tsumao Awasaka’s short story The Eulogy of Red (included in The Escape of Aichirou A).”

Last year’s Seiun Award Best Media Winner (Chapter 1, Part 002 – ♣01 , Page 12) – The programme for the Sci-Fi Studies Club in the Cultural Festival.

“Last year refers to the year 1999, so the winning film is Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture – Prince of Darkness, a Kadokawa film. I was mindful of the publisher, but I didn’t explicitly state the title (Laugh).”

Wildfire (Chapter 1, Part 002 – ♣01 , Page 13) – The name of the Cooking Club’s main event for the Cultural Festival.

“This is the name of the protocol that appeared in Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. I believe I came up with that name as an association to the Astronomy Club’s cooking.”

Costume Play – Including Ibara, some Manga Society members did cosplay to attract customers. Ibara cosplayed only manga characters, with Frol from Moto Hagio’s They Were Eleven! on the first day, Mami Sakura from Fujiko F. Fujio’s Mami the Psychic on the second day, and Mariko Senri from Osamu Tezuka’s Rainbow Parakeet on the third day. On the other hand, Kouchi-senpai cosplayed only game characters, with Hsien-Ko from Darkstalkers on the first day, King from Art of Fighting on the second day, and Chun-Li from Street Fighters on the third day.

“Kouchi’s costumes were quite expensive, except for the second day. The costume on the third day in particular would be difficult for a high school student to acquire. Ibara also went for a cheaper costume on the third day because she didn’t have the motivation.”

200 volumes (Chapter 2-1, Part 007 – ♠03, Page 41) – The number of volumes that was mistakenly printed for the Classic Club’s anthology, Hyouka. Ibara, who made the order, accidentally gave the number of volumes for her own doujinshi.

“I’ve received comments from various people, asking ‘Just how big is Ibara to sell 200 copies on her own?’ (Laugh)”

Having an AK as a main weapon and a Glock as a side-arm (Chapter 3-1, Part 023 – ♦05, Page 139) – The names of the water guns that the Gardening Club used to extinguish fires. The AK, also known as the Kalashnikov, is a rifle used by the old Soviet Union military. The Glock, an automatic pistol, is manufactured in Austria and is used by the FBI in America. In other words, they are the firearms of the West and the old East. Houtarou commented that it was inconsistent.

“Basically, he has some knowledge of guns, nut he isn’t that much of a maniac to insist that ‘It should be Ah Kah (Russian pronunciation), not AK!’ By the way, based on my research (at the time of writing), there hasn’t been a water gun modelled after an AK.”

Fata Morgana (Chapter 3-2, Part 029 – ♥07, Page 162) – The name of a team that participated in the Cooking Club’s main event, Wildfire.

“That’s the name of King Arthur’s elder sister. I wrote Kudryavka’s Order in the library, and that name appeared in a book I was reading for a change in pace, so I decided to use it.”

Maple Deer (Chapter 3-3, Part 041 – ♣14, Page 235) – A card used in the magic show performed by the Magic Club.

“I thought that using poker cards would be too conventional, so I decided to use Hanafuda, which was inspired from Tsumao Awasaka’s The Eleven Cards. As for whether the same trick is used here……”

Hitting the pheasant8 (Chapter 5-1, Part 052 – ♠14, Page 279) – That is a colloquialism meaning ‘going to the toilet’, used among mountain climbers.

“In Is It Sunny out in the Mountains?, we learn that Houtarou has some experience in mountain climbing. The female version of the phrase is ‘Picking flowers’.”

Stop moving like that while his gaze would lose all focus (Chapter 5-1, Part 057 – ♥13, Page 313) – Chitanda’s observation of Houtarou when he is thinking (or making a deduction).

“Detectives often have some action when they start their deductions. I wanted to write one for Houtarou as well, but the first two works in the series were all written from Houtarou’s first-person perspective, so I couldn’t. It is only possible in this situation, when he is observed from the outside by someone else for the first time. It is a little plain, though (Laugh).”

Missing Ring (Chapter 5-1, Part 058 – ♠16, Page 318)

“The terms ‘Missing Link’ and ‘Missing Ring’ appear regularly, and both get the meaning across, but as to which one is correct, I have no idea.”

The Doll that Took a Detour

The Silk Spider Society (If I Have to Do It, Make It Quick, Part 3, Page 28) – The name of a secret club in Kamiyama High School, according to Houtarou9.

“Of course, this was derived from Natsuhiko Kyogoku-sensei’s Truth of the Entangling Newlywed Woman10 and Isaac Asimov’s ‘Black Widowers’11.”

Inji Middle School (If I Have to Do It, Make It Quick, Part 4, Page 36) – The name of Chitanda’s middle school. Houtarou came from Kaburaya Middle School.

“Kaburaya is a kind of arrow, while Inji refers to stone throwing. Kaburaya came out in the series first, so I tried to match it with a throwing weapon…… There is no further meaning beyond this.”

Seizansou (The Ghost, When Examined, Part 2, Page 105) – The name of the hot springs and inn that Ibara’s relatives run.

“The place that Mito Koumon retired in was called Seizansou12…… They have the same pronunciation by coincidence. I only noticed afterwards that I had made a weird name.”

Bad Fortune (Sappy New Year, Part 1, Page 211) – The fortune that Houtarou drew on New Year’s Day.

“I’d never drawn one, so I thought that they don’t actually exist. However, I drew my first one recently. It was quite a shock.”

Sappy New Year (Sappy New Year, Part 7 – Side A, Page 257) – A pun.

“When I was publishing this story in the magazine, I excluded this because I felt it was too much of a dad joke, but the editor for the book said, ‘Please add it in!’ And that’s why the pun is used here.”

Hand-made Chocolate (The Case of the Hand-made Chocolate, Part 1, Page 263)

“Actually, before writing this story, I found some sort of ‘chocolate dictionary’ published in commemoration of a chocolate maker in a used book store. I decided to write this story after that.”

Houtarou’s writing skill (The Case of the Hand-made Chocolate, Part 1, Page 263) – Up to the fourth book in the series, Houtarou has had thoughts in his heart that sound like literary text of his own creation. One instance is his description of Ibara in 2 sentences and 64 words. The next is in Kudryavka’s Order, where he described the unsold state of Hyouka in 5 sentences and 266 words (Chapter 5-1, Part 050 – ♠13, Page 271). Just how good is Houtarou’s writing skill?

“He uses too many adjectives.”

Game (The Case of the Hand-made Chocolate, Part 2, Page 276) – An arcade game simulating a robot fight that Houtarou and Satoshi played.

“The model used here is Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram. It was fairly popular when the story was set13 (Year 2000). Satoshi’s robot is called Cypher, while Houtarou’s is called Raiden.”

Iipinraoyue (The Case of the Hand-made Chocolate, Part 2, Page 284) – The Mahjong hand that Satoshi was trying to achieve. Apparently, it’s a yakuman14, but……

“It’s an old scoring combination that no one uses now. There are also others like二索槍槓 (Ryansouchankan) and五筒開花 (Uupinkaihou) that are yakuman.”

By the way, Iipinraoyue means performing a 海底撈月(Haiteiraoyue), or winning by drawing the last tile, with the ‘One Circle’ tile.

Craftsman (The Case of the Hand-made Chocolate, Part 4, Page 301) – Referring to the handicrafts club member. Houtarou continues calling him a craftsman15 throughout the story.

“Well, it was just a meaningless game.”

Approximating the Distance between Two People

Hoshigaya Cup (Prologue-1, Page 7) – Kamiyama High School’s long-distance running tournament that takes place every year at the end of May.

“In the story, I wrote about running for 20km, but in my high school, I had to run 15km. We ran on a mountain road with low traffic, so rather than the distance, the differences in gradients made it tough.”

Sawing noises16 (Chapter 1-2, Page 37) – A phrase that Satoshi used in his speech to appeal for people to join the Classics Club during Freshmen Orientation.

“This phrase originated from the Rakugo17 story Kishuu.”

Birthday (Chapter 2-2, Page 93) – Houtarou’s birthday.

“During the lower levels of elementary school, when children grow up in a short time, it is probably advantageous to be born in April. Houtarou’s physical education results would have been quite good, I think.”

Chips Satsuma (Chapter 3-2, Page 138) – Satsuma chips that Oohinata brought from Kagoshima.

“Oohinata said ‘Now then, because you ate the snacks, there’s something that I’d like my beloved upperclassmen to do for me.’ This came from a story about Guan Lu in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Under instruction from the diviner, a youth who had been told that he was about to die really soon found two old men fully engrossed in their game of go, and offered them food and wine. By touching the food and wine, the old men, who were actually deities in charge of deciding people’s lifespans, accepted the request to increase the youth’s lifespan.”

Shinsou (Chapter 3-2, Page 157) – A weekly magazine.

“Later on, Ibara submits her manga to a magazine that used to be called Monthly Comic Shin Soh. They are probably from the same publishing company. They also have a news magazine titled Monthly Shinsou.”

Russian (Chapter 5-2, Page 244) – A word that appeared during Houtarou and Oohinata’s conversation.

“The word suddenly appeared in the conversation, but I was thinking of Clint Eastwood’s film Firefox. However, it would be a different situation if I try rereading it now……”

Even Though I’m Told I Now Have Wings

Yakisoba (What’s Missing from the Box, Part 2, Page 8) – Houtarou’s dinner one day.

“Oreki loosened the noodles here, but for this way of cooking, there is actually no need to loosen the noodles before frying them.”

Ramen (What’s Missing from the Box, Part 4, Page 33) – A ramen shop that Houtarou and Satoshi chanced upon while they were strolling around the streets at night.

“In the story, it looks like normal ramen, but is somehow extremely hot. That is the special characteristic of the ramen from a shop that used to be along Kotaki Bridge in Shinjuku. I was taken aback from the noodles alone when I ate there for the first time.”

Lightning (Is it Sunny out in the Mountains?, Page 124) – A legend in Kaburaya Middle School, of English teacher Ogi, who had been hit by lightning three times in his life.

“I am actually familiar with someone who has been hit by lightning three times.”

Monthly Comic La Shin (Our Legendary Volume, Part 1, Page 145) – A manga magazine that Ibara loves to read.

“Based on the description I’ve written, it seems quite close to Haruta.”

Dialogue board (Our Legendary Volume, Part 3, Page 167) – When Ibara draws a manga, she starts by writing out the dialogue.

“According to Task Ohna-san, who has done the comicalisation of Hyouka, it is not rare for people to start with writing out the dialogue board, and that is apparently called a ‘litarary name’.”

Haru Enma (Our Legendary Volume, Part 6, Page 222) – A manga contributor.

“In Broken Keel18 (Sougen Bunko Mystery), a character called Haaru Enma appears.”

Folk Story (Even Though I’m Told I Now Have Wings, Part 7, Page 348) – One that came to Houtarou’s mind while he was talking with Chitanda during a certain situation.“It’s not a folk story, but the myth of ‘Iwato-gakure’19.”

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  1. Here’s the song in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoayEWR8Ojs
  2. A long-running period drama on prime-time television from 1969 to 2011.
  3. The “Aoi” character, 青, can also be read as “Sei”.
  4. A famous Japanese writer of mystery and horror, who wrote The Decagon House Murders. He also has had an interview with Honobu Yonezawa, which I will be translating some time in the future.
  5. This is just an approximate translation, since the fan translation apparently missed out this phrase, and I’m not very confident in classical Japanese.
  6. Goddess of the sun and the universe.
  7. Also known as a Kojiki,this is a collection of myths, early legends, songs, genealogies, oral traditions and semi-historical accounts concerning the origin of the Japanese archipelago and gods, written in the early 8th century.
  8. In the fan translation on Baka-tsuki, it’s translated as ‘Nature is calling out to me’. I decided to use the literal translation so that it would be more distinctive.
  9. This might be a typo in the original source, since I’m pretty sure it was Satoshi who told Houtarou and Chitanda about it.
  10. Entangling Newlywed Woman and Silk Spider are both read as “jorougumo” in Japanese.
  11. A fictional men-only dining club created by Isaac Asimov for a series of sixty-six mystery stories that he started writing in 1971.
  12. The one in Hyouka is written as 青山荘, which translated literally means “Green mountain villa”, while the one in Mito Koumon is written as 西山荘, which translated literally means “West mountain villa”.
  13. I used to play it quite a lot too, but I can’t find any of these machines now :/
  14. Limit hands in Japanese Mahjong, giving 48000 points to the dealer or 32000 points to the other players.
  15. That word has the same pronunciation as the word for ‘spy’.
  16. I decided to use the translated phrase here. The original phrase is テンカトッタ(Tenkatotta) which is just onomatopoeia for sawing noises.
  17. A form of Japanese storytelling where a single storyteller sits on a stage and acts out different characters.
  18. Another book by Honobu Yonezawa, published in 2010.
  19. According to the Record of Ancient Matters, the bad behaviour of the god of storms drove his sister Amaterasu into hiding in a cave called “Ama-no-Iwato”, and the land was deprived of light. A wise god, a strong god and a dancing god worked together to lure Amaterasu to peek outside the cave and step outside.

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