The First Englishman in Japan

As William Adams Club (WAC) Committee media consultant, I was intrigued to witness the official announcement of a new 10-part period drama about the first Briton in Japan, at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on February 20.

I took quick photos during a short break from the FCCJ’s monthly Board of Directors’ meeting in a nearby room to hear about this version that is loosely based on navigator William Adams and set in the 1600s at the dawn of a century-defining civil war.

Shogun premiered on Disney+ on February 27 as an original adaptation of James Clavell’s best-selling novel of the same name in 1975.

At the press conference were Showrunner, Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Writer Justin Marks; Co-Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer Rachel Kondo; Executive Producer Michaela Clavell; Producer and Cast Member Hiroyuki Sanada; and Cast Members Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai.

Sanada is best-known to foreign audiences for his roles in The Last Samurai (2003), 47 Ronin (2013) and Bullet Train (2022).

He stars as Lord Yoshii Toranaga, whose reign is endangered as his political enemies unite against him. But John Blackthorne (Jarvis), the captain of marooned European ship in a nearby fishing village, arrives bearing secrets that could help the daimyo tip the scales of power. Their fates are linked to their translator Toda Mariko, a Christian noblewoman with dishonorable family ties.

Blackthorne’s character is loosely based on Adams, who became a samurai under the powerful warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu, on whom Toranaga’s character is based.

For more on Adams, visit the WAC website:

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