The witch's epitaph is the central riddle of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. The epitaph appears in the main hall of the Ushiromiya family mansion, adjacent to the large portrait of the witch Beatrice. The riddle is outwardly a guide to reach the Golden Land, where Kinzo Ushiromiya supposedly hid his gold fortune. During the course of the games, the epitaph is interpreted instead to be a detailed account of how to perform the ritual to revive Beatrice. According to rumor, Kinzo put the portrait and epitaph on display as an elaborate means of determining the next family head. The epitaph is first solved by Lion Ushiromiya on November 29, 1984.
Behold the sweetfish river running through my beloved hometown.
Behold the sweetfish river running through my beloved hometown.
The solution to the riddle is revealed in Requiem of the Golden Witch.
|Behold the sweetfish river running through my beloved hometown.||Refers to Kinzo's hometown of Taihoku, Taiwan. During the occupation of Taiwan, the Japanese lived in Taihoku. "Sweetfish river" refers to the Danshui Line, a railroad that went from Taihoku to the Danshui Harbor. Danshui is Japanese for "freshwater." Sweetfish only live in freshwater.|
|You who seek the Golden Land, follow its path downstream in search of the key||Refers to the railroad line. "Follow its path downstream" means follow the Danshui Line.|
|As you travel down it, you will see a village||Refers to a station on the Danshui Line, Sekihai Station. Sekihai Station was once called Kirigan Station (唭里岸?), which has the Japanese character for "village" as part of its name.|
|In that village, look for the shore the two will tell you of||Refers to the aforementioned Kirigan Station. Kirigan Station has the character for "shore" in its name. The "two" refer to the namesake of Kirigan Station, also called Kirigan (唭哩岸?), though written differently. This Kirigan has two characters for "mouth" in it.|
|There sleeps the key to the Golden Land||Refers to multiple things. The "key" refers to six things in particular.|
|On the first twilight, offer the six chosen by the key as sacrifices||Refers the same key as above. The Taiwanese pronunciation of Kirigan is Qilian which, when romanized, is six letters long. Those six letters are removed from a larger set of letters. On the relief adorning the chapel on Rokkenjima, there is a statement written in English, "You will be blessed only at a probability of a quadrillion to one". Each letter of quadrillion has a key attached to the back and can be removed from the relief. For the first twilight, one must remove the letters of "Qilian" from the relief. This leaves you with "_u_dr__l_o_".|
|On the second twilight, those who remain shall tear apart the two who are close||Refers to the "d" and "r" in quadrillion, which are the closest remaining letters. You "tear apart those who are close" by moving the "r" one keyhole to the right. This leaves you with "_u_d_r_l_o_".|
|On the third twilight, those who remain shall praise my noble name||Refers to rearranging the letters remaining on the relief while maintaining their positions. If done correctly, the phrase "lord u" is spelled.|
|On the fourth twilight, gouge the head and kill.
On the fifth twilight, gouge the chest and kill.
On the sixth twilight, gouge the stomach and kill.
On the seventh twilight, gouge the knee and kill.
On the eighth twilight, gouge the leg and kill
|All refer to the relief. You "gouge and kill" by turning a key from left to right before removing it. Once all the letters have been removed, the lion statue outside the chapel will turn to face a different direction. The lion now faces another lion which faces another and so on. Follow the lions to the back of the chapel. There is now an entrance to a staircase leading to an underground VIP room wherein the gold is stored.|
- The first time the epitaph is solved in-game is during Banquet of the Golden Witch by Eva Ushiromiya.
- The epitaph can be solved without knowing the phrase "You will be blessed only at a probability of quadrillion to one" on the chapel. This can occur in three ways:
- One comes from the one discrepancy within the riddle, On the tenth twilight, the journey shall end, and you shall reach the capital where the gold dwells, in which the Golden Land is instead referred to as the capital. Golden Land, in romanized Japanese, is "Ougon Kyou", which can also mean Golden Capital. The character for Land/Capital, "kyou", can be read as "kei", which is also a number equal to ten quadrillion. When divided by ten (tenth twilight), only one quadrillion is left.
- Second, one can deduce that the string of letters to remove "Qilian" from is eleven letters long due to the five "gouge and kill" lines later in the epitaph. The six letters of "Qilian" plus five equals eleven total letters. There are only ten words in the modern English language that are both eleven letters long and also contain "Quilian": equinoctial, inequitable, liquidating, liquidation, quasilinear, unqualified, inequitably, quadrillion, tranquility, and tranquilize. Whether intentional or not, this can be further narrowed as only two of these words could contain a capital Q: quasilinear and quadrillion. The importance of the capitalization of the Q is never specified, so this could just be a useful coincidence.
- Third, the line of the tenth twilight, "you will attain power once and for the last time" in combination with the "four treasures" offered by Beatrice can lead to the interpretation of raising 10 to 4th power once (resulting in 10,000) and then raising the result to the 4th power again, resulting in ten quadrillion. Like the first method, this is divided by ten, leaving you with one quadrillion. This method was actually impossible for English speakers until the Steam release as the English translation of the epitaph previously omitted the line "you will attain power once and for the last time.".
- The epitaph's role in Umineko no Naku Koro ni is similar to the role of Ten Little Indians in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
- The truth of the witch's epitaph garnered some controversy among fans due to the difficulty of solving it.
- The inclusion of Sekihai Station and Kirigan may have originated from their placement in the Beitou District of Taiwan, whose name is derived from the Ketagalan word for "witch."