James Clavell's Shogun (1980)

 

 

 

Director:  Jerry London

Starring:   Richard Chamberlain (Pilot-Major John Blackthorne/Anjin-san), Toshir Mifune (Lord Yoshi Toranaga), Yko Shimada (Lady Toda Buntaro - Mariko), Frankie Sakai (Lord Yabu), Alan Badel (Father Dell'Aqua), Damien Thomas (Father Alvito), Michael Hordern (Friar Domingo), Vladek Sheybal (Captain Ferriera), Yuki Meguro (Omi), Noburo Kaneko (Lord Ishido), George Innes (Vinck), Leon Lissek (Father Sebastio). 

 

"John Blackthorne, an English ship pilot, whose vessel wrecked upon the Japanese coast in the early 17th century is forced to deal with the two most powerful men in Japan in these days. He is thrown in the midst of a war between Toranaga and Ishido, who struggle for the title of Shogun which will give ultimate power to the one who possesses it." (Source: www.amazon.com)

The story is based on the life of William Adams, the first Englishman in Japan in 1600.  (See below for the history.) 

My wife and I enjoyed this mini-series very much.  (In fact, my wife was inspired to read the book to find out more about the story.)  It is the story of an English sea captain working for the Dutch who guides his ship to what he called "the Japans".   Here Blackthorne finds a alien world that both both confuses and outrages him.  Japan was a warrior society involved at the time in a civil war and appeared to the sea captain as a very brutal and ruthless society.  (Richard Chamberlain, Dr. Kildare of the TV series, seems to have only one reaction  -- a constant glare full of outrage, resistance and stubbornness.)

The Portuguese have been in the country since 1543 and the Jesuits are in charge of the Christian community.  The Jesuits have Blackthorne sent to jail where there was only one punishment: crucifixion. Luckily for Blackthorne, he is saved by daimyo Toranaga (Toshir Mifune) who is very curious about the Englishman and wants to check English/Dutch reality against that of the Jesuits.    

The story then follows the life of Blackthorne in Japan.  We see Japan through his eyes and it makes for an interesting and informative adventure.  Blackthorne falls in love with his Japanese translator, which is a problem, since she is unhappily married to a powerful Japanese samurai. 

For those who know little of Japan (at the time, like us), the movie is a great introduction to Japanese culture. 

(The movie also explains much of the brutality and savageness of the Japanese during World War II.  They followed bushido, the unforgiving and aggressive code of honor of the samurai. With this brutal code it is little wonder that the Japanese often acted in ways that were unforgivably cruel to both enemy soldiers and civilians.)

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

Spoiler warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie:

 

Disc 1. 

1598.  Five trader warships from Rotterdam are sent out to ravage Spanish and Portuguese possessions.  Only one of the Dutch ships survives:  the Erasmus.  Pilot-Major John Blackthorne has only 28 men left in his crew.  They are being chased by enemy ships and so the captain decides to flee westward to the Japans.  But as the days pass the crew increasingly ask:  "Where are the Japans?"  The call "Reef ahead!" is shouted out.  They try to avoid it but they cannot.  Captain Blackthorne wakes up in a strange room.  But there is something familiar in the room: a crucifix.  An older woman comes in and gives him his now clean clothes.  Her name is Onna.  Blackthorne wonders why the members of the family he meets keep bowing to him.  He finally wizens up and starts bowing.  He realizes that this must be the Japans.  He is in a port town and his ship is in port. 

Blackthorne walks down to the shore and has a boat take him out to his ship.  A Portuguese Catholic priest in a bright orange uniform comes down to the shore and watches as Blackthorne is rowed out to his ship.  Blackthorne climbs onto his ship but runs into a wall of samurai warriors.  He tries to go down to his cabin, but the head samurai threatens him by starting to pull out his sword.  So the captain returns to shore.  There he meets Father Sebastio, who proves to be very unpleasant, saying" "You are a heretic Dutchman pirate."  The captain asks the religious man:  "Where's my crew?"  The priest is more interested in telling Blackthorne that he is going to die along with all of his crew. 

Kasigi Omi-san, the samurai in charge of the village, with a group of his men come down to check on Blackthorne.  He wants to know where Blackthorne is from.  When he finds out, the head samurai tells Blackthorne through the priest that since he is the captain, he can walk around the village.  Blackthorne also learns that Lord Kasigi Yabu will decide his ultimate fate.  Kasigi Omi-san suddenly draws his sword and cuts off the head of a common man.  (His crime was his failure to bow to the samurai.)  Blackthorne is absolutely shocked.  He can hardly believe what he just saw and develops a strong dislike of Omi. 

Blackthorne enters the jail to check on his crewmen.  The charge against everyone is that they are pirates.  The Japanese tell them that "Your pirate ship is confiscated."  They then put the captain and the crew down in a big hole with a roof on it.  Yabu decides to spare the foreigners' lives.  But there's a fly in the ointment.  The men have to chose one of the crewmen to die for all of them.  The men decide to draw sticks.  Johann Vinck draws the short stick.  Captain Blackthorne, however, says that they must fight the Japanese rather than send one of their men to certain death.  The men are afraid that the Japanese might kill them all if they resist.  Blackthorne and some other men resist and the Japanese end up just grabbing one of the crew.  The poor man is boiled alive. 

The Japanese tell Pilot Blackthorne to come up alone from the hole.  If he does not obey, another one of his crew will be killed.  But Blackthorne proves to be highly uncontrollable.  He gives Kasigi Omi-san a hard time and the head samurai forces Blackthorne to lay on the ground.  The samurai says that the captain must be taught manners.  He then urinates on Blackthorne.  Since it is hard for the Japanese to say Blackthorne, they give him another name:  Anjin which means pilot.  He is called Anjin-san (san meaning honorable).  He is then told to go with an older man named Muraji.  Anjin goes with Muraji to his house.  He is then taken to have a bath.  Anjin thinks this is unhealthy and resists, but Muraji uses judo to trip him to the floor.  Anjin takes the bath. 

Lord Toranaga's ship rounds the bend.  On deck is General Toda Hiromatsu.  The Japanese want Anjin to get on board the ship, but Anjin tells them it is a slave ship (using slave labor) and won't set foot on it.  They start to force him when Portuguese captain Vasco Rodriguez tells them to leave the man alone.  Rodriguez talks with Anjin, who then agrees to get on the ship to go to Osaka.  There they will find the Lord High Executioner, the chief daimyo (i.e., war lord), Lord Toranaga.  The war lord controls some eight provinces. 

Rodriguez mentions that the samurai live to kill.  Anjin wants to go to his cabin to get his maps and charts (his rutter).  But the maps and charts are no longer on the ship.  (The priests have them.)  Osaka is some 300 sea miles away.  Rodriguez tries to kill Anjin by sending him to the front of the ship to fix a sail and then changing course immediately.  But Anjin manages to stay onboard.  A big storm hits the ship and Rodriguez falls overboard.  Anjin jumps into water to save the man.  Yabu also jumps into the water to help save Rodriguez. 

Back in the village, the crew is still in the hole.  The Japanese decide to let them out.  The one Japanese in the hole (captured by the crew) is told to commit seppuku (i.e., ritual suicide). 

On board ship, Rodriguez gives a history lesson to Anjin.  The Japanese have had 600 years of civil war.  That is until 35 years ago, when Goroda captured half of all Japan and made himself ichi-ban, lord of the entire country.  Lord Toranaga helped him.  Now Lord Toranaga dominates in the east and Lord Ishido dominates in the west.  He tells Anjin that another civil war is coming.  Lord Toranaga is staying at Osaka Castle for the meeting of the Council of Regents.  He is a guest of Lord Ishido, who owns the castle.

When the slaver arrives, they are met by twenty samurai.  They are led by Lord Toranaga's youngest son, Lord Naga.  Anjin has to stay onboard ship.   

May 1600.  Osaka.  Rodriguez goes to see His Eminence.  Also there is Father Alvito.  The clergymen all argue that Anjin and his crew arel pirates.  His Eminence asks "Why has he come now?" 

Anjin gets off the ship.  He takes another bath and is placed in jail.  When Anjin gets a hearing he meets Father Alvito.  He will be the translator for Anjin.  But Anjin demands that Father Alvito tell Lord Toranaga that they are enemies and he does not want him as his translator. So a beautiful Japanese woman named Mariko is brought in to serve as translator.  What they want to know is if Anjin is a pirate.  Lord Ishido comes in and says that Anjin is a pirate.  So Anjin is to be detained until Lord Toranaga decides his fate.  Anjin talks with Mariko on the way to jail.  He sees crucified men on crosses along the pathway to jail.  Anjin is thrown into a large room with lots of scantily clad men.  He soon learns that there is only one penalty here: death.  When a man's name is called, he is going to be crucified.  Then a non-Jesuit priest sees Anjin.  He is overjoyed to find another foreigner.  He came in to jail in September 1598 and it is now May 1600.  He tells Anjin that the Jesuits put him in jail and that he hates the Jesuits. 

The Jesuits are taking part of the profits made in the silk trade transported by the "Black Ship".  The ship takes Japanese goods back to Europe to sell at a great profit. 

Anjin learns that only the samurais have names.  The commoners are called by their occupations.  Then the name Anjin-san is called out! 

 

Disc 2.

The jailer tells Anjin-san that he is to go to the castle.  Anjin says:  "Sweet Jesus, I thought I was a dead man."  Toronaga had him released.  He kept him in jail so that he would be kept out of the dlutches of Lord Ishido.  At the castle Anjin meets Lady Kiri-sama, once the consort, but now the mistress of Toranaga's household.  With the help of Mariko Anjin says that his crew were the first outsiders through Magellan's Pass around the southern end of South America, other than the Portuguese and Spanish.  Pope Clement VII sanctioned the Treaty of Saragossa, which divided up the world between Portugal and Spain.  Japan and China belong to Portugal.  Anjin meets others.  He learns about the boy Yaemon, who is the heir.  He is the son of the late Taiko.  And then there is Lady Yedo who is the official mother of the heir. 

Father Alvito speaks with Portuguese Captain Ferriera.  The captain is this year's Governor of Macao and, therefore, is also this year's captain of the Black Ship.  The captain sees Anjin as a threat and says:  "The sooner Blackthorne is dead the better."  And what is worse, Anjin told Toranaga about the Pope and the Treaty of Sargossa.  Father Dell'Aqua tells Captain Ferriera not to interfere with the government.  But one thing is for sure, the more Lord Toranaga learns from Anjin-san the more perilous becomes their situation. 

A ninja scales the walls of the castle and enters into the castle proper.  He garrots a guard.  He then tries to kill Anjin-san, but Anjin-san wakes up in time to dodge the blade of the sword.  Samurai arrive to fight the assassin.  The assassin, failing in his mission, commits suicide with his short sword.  Of course, Anjin-san wants to know who is trying to hill him.  The man is an Amida Tong assassin. This group has the deadliest assassins in all of Japan.  Lord Toranaga calls Yabu over to him to let him know that he is not happy with the lax security at the castle. (Three young women come to see Anjin-san to serve him.  Anjin sees Mariko and Lady Kiri-sama.)

Lord Toranaga wants the maps and charts from Anjin's rutter.  Meanwhile, Anjin draws a picture of the world in the sand to show Toranaga how he and his crew came to Japan.  Anjin still wants to know more about the assassin.  The Amida Tong is a secret society.  Anjin-san asks:  "But why attack me?"  Toranaga wants an answer to the same question. 

Morika runs into her husband, Lord Buntaro.  He looks like a mean and very unhappy fellow.  Anjin gets a little drunk and he dances a sailor's dance for the three women servants and Mariko.  Toranaga comes in and wants Anjin-san to do the dance for him.  The ruler actually likes the dance and has Anjin-san teach him the dance steps.  Anjin learns that he will leave at dusk and go with Lady Kiri-sama to Edo (today's Tokyo).  Mariko asks Anjin about his opportunities for sex since he came to Japan.  She learns that he has not "pillowed" (had sex) since he arrived.  Mariko tells him that he can pillow with one or all three of the women servants.  Anjin says "perhaps later".  When Mariko then asks him if he would prefer a boy, Anjin becomes very angry at the very idea.  Mariko asks him for his forgiveness for upsetting him.

Pressure is put on the priests and Father Alvito has to give Blackthorne his old rutter.  Alvito remarks to the captain:  "You are becoming Japanese."  He also says that since war is coming between Lord Toranaga and Lord Ishido he better leave before it's too late.  Blackthorne just sarcastically says:  "And leave before the Black Ship arrives?" 

The time for leaving has arrived.  Lord Buntaro will lead the procession out of Ishido's castle.  Lord Toranaga disguises himself as a woman with a huge hat in order to escape from the castle because Ishido does not want him to leave.  Toranaga's samurai wear brown uniforms and Lord Ishido's men wear gray.  The grays start searching the palanquins (little cabins with sliding doors carried on a pole by two men, one in the front and one in the back).  Anjin starts to act as if he had gone totally crazy to create a diversion so Lord Toranaga's palanguin will not be checked.  Many times the grays are close to killing Anjin because of his behavior.  One time Mariko shields Anjin with her body from an arrow from an archer.  But Anjin is able to keep the act going until the procession is out of the castle.  Mariko tells Anjin that he is a brave man.  And he thanks her for shielding him. 

The procession is ambushed while going through a seemingly deserted village.  A number of casualties are taken by both sides, but the procession is safe.  They decide to split the procession.  Lord Toranaga gives one of his old generals a letter to give to Lord Ishido.  It is Toranaga's resignation letter from the Council of Regents.  Now there will only be four regents, when five are needed for decision-making.  

Anjin's group has a plan.  The samurai are to go to the galley and say that they were attacked by bandits.  The men up front do so and the samurai in gray uniforms rush off to attack the bandits.  Then Anjin and the others get on the galley.  The captain says that they are ready to leave, but it is another ambush.  Anjin and the others are able to defeat the attackers and throw their bodies into the water.  Anjin saves Mariko from death.  Lord Toranaga is the last to come aboard.  Mariko tells Anjin:  "I thank you for my life, Anjin-san."  But there is still one more problem to overcome.  The grays with numerous small craft block their way.  Anjin comes up with a plan.  They will ask permission to board the nearby Black Ship and ask for twenty muskets so that they can blow a hole right in the middle of the "naval" blockade.  Permission is given by Captain Ferriera for the men to board, but he says Anjin-san must come with them.  There are a lot of priests aboard the Black Ship and Anjin is none too happy to see them.  Lord Toranaga gets the priests to side with him by offering them the opportunity to build a big cathedral in Edo.  The captain is willing to give the men the twenty muskets, but he demands that he be given the heretic (Blackthorne).  Toranaga tells the captain that he can have the Englishman.  The muskets are placed in Toranaga's boat and they start rowing back to the galley.  The captain is very happy.  Anjin's old friend Rodriguez helps Anjin escape by pretending he is punishing Anjin by throwing him into the water.  But Anjin just swims to Toranaga's boat and escapes.  Needless to say, the captain is very angry at Rodriguez. 

The galley stops at Anjiro, the village where Blackthorne came to in Japan.  Anjin is told that his ship is at Edo, as well as his crew.  And now for the real surprise.  Mariko and Anjin will stay in the village so that Anjin can learn Japanese very quickly.  Toranaga presents Anjin with a modern pistol.  Yabu is in charge of the village and welcomes Anjin as an honored guest.  He then informs him that he is now hatamoto (personal retainer on Toranaga's staff).  And Anjin is given a house in keeping with his new esteemed rank.  There is one catch to this wonderful turn of events.  Yabu says that the entire village has the responsibility for teaching Anjin Japanese in six months.  If they fail, all the inhabitants of the village will be crucified and the village will be burned. Anjin is shocked at the very idea. 

At his new home, Anjin meets Fujiko-san, a young widow of only 19 years of age.  She was offered the opportunity to be the consort of Anjin and she said she would be honored.  Anjin does not want to accept her, but Mariko tells him that he cannot refuse.  The poor young woman also lost a son.  (Actually, both father and son were put to death.)  Mariko explains some facts of life to Anjin.  By law they belong to the lord.  For instance, her husband can put her to death if he desires it.  And if Fujiko offends Anjin, he has the right to kill her.  Anjin gets mad and says:  "So I'm trapped again."  If he doesn't do what they say, some innocent will die.

Omi-san comes to the house to escort Anjin to Yabu's house.  He asks Anjin for his pistol, but Anjin does not want to give it up.  After a lot of arguing, Anjin leaves the pistol with Fujiko.  Omi-san says that he will report this whole nonsense to Yabu.  Now that Anjin is hatamoto, he has to wear the long and short swords of the samurai.  Yabu welcomes Anjin and tells him that the Council of Regents have chosen a fifth regent: Ito Teruzumi.  And Lord Ishido is the new president.  Yabu asks if Anjin has fought in any battles.  Yes, in Europe.  Then Yabu asks him to tell him all about European military strategy.  Anjin goes further than that.  He tells Yabu that he will train his men to fight so that they are unbeatable.  But there's a catch.  Yabu must rescind his decree about the village.  Yabu says that the village is unimportant.  But Anjin will not back down.  The question is asked again.  Now Yabu gives a definite "no".  Anjin says he cannot live with the shame; he is dishonored.  He intends to commit suicide before Yabu.  Yabu reminds Anjin that this is against his own religion.  He shoots back that he is now hatamoto; he lives by their rules.  Anjin takes out his short sword and puts it to his chest.  He is about to plunge it into his chest when Omi-san stops him.  Yabu concedes to Anjin's request. 

While riding horses, Anjin tells Mariko:  "I wish you could be my consort."  Mariko tells him it is impossible.  At home Anjin is brought a dead pheasant.  Anjin hangs the bird from a tree to let the meat cure and forbids anyone from touching it.  This upsets all the Japanese, but no one says a word.  (The Japanese do not like the small of decay.) 

Anjin teaches the samurai to shoot very well.  Later he takes a bath.  Mariko gets in the bath with him and Anjin asks:  "Is this usual?"  Yes, says Mariko, "This is natural and normal."  She says in Japan there is no privacy.  If an individual wants privacy they must learn to go inside themselves in a land of internal mazes.  She then advises Anjin not to be fooled by their bows and smiles.  That night Mariko and Fujiko conspire to send Mariko's female servant in to Anjin's room to pretend she is Mariko in order to have sex with Anjin.  The scheme sort of backfires, because the next morning Anjin thinks his entire relationship with Mariko has taken a turn for the better.  Mariko has to explain what she and Fujiko did.  Anjin is downcast at this news and is upset about having sex with a stranger.  Mariko only says:  "A man with a woman is without import."  (But in the case of adultery, the crime is death.)

Disc 3. 

Anjro, Japan. 1600.  Lord Buntaro rides by the side of Lord Toranaga.  He never liked the idea of his wife being Anjin's teacher.  And now seeing her with Anjin in person, he is even less pleased.  He goes to Anjin's house, but Anjin will not bow to him.  Mariko has to plead with him to bow to her husband.  At dinner it is not any better.  Lord Buntaro asks if it is true that Anjin said that 100 men with muskets could defeat 500 of Buntaro's men with bow and arrow.  Buntaro tells him that an archer can get off a lot more shots than a man with a musket in a given amount of time.  He then tells Anjin that he will demonstrate his technique.  From where he is sitting, he shoots five arrows in a row that pierce through the paper thin walls.  He then sends Anjin out to see the results.  All five landed in the same place on the gate post.  Then Anjin starts a drinking contest with Buntaro.  Buntaro accepts, but then counters by demanding that his wife tell Anjin about her past.  Her father Gen. Lord Akechi-san was the assassin of the dictator, Lord Goroda.  With this he had committed the worst crime there is.  Therefore, her blood is tainted.  She had wanted to commit seppuku, but Buntaro took her for his wife and now she belongs to him.  Her husband then "honored" her by sending her away to Shonai Province up north. 

That night Buntaro and Mariko have a big fight and Buntaro hits her.  Anjin takes his pistol and tries to enter their room but his stopped by some guards and then by Fujiko in his second attempt.  But on his third attempt he succeeds.  He finds Mariko alone with a bloody nose and torn clothing.  Mariko begs Anjin to go away, because his presence will take away her face.  She adds:  "You shame me."  Anjin protests, but she adds:  "He can beat me to death, if he wishes."  He is mad because he wants fear and obedience from her and she will not give him that.  She won't  "because that is my revenge for his leaving me alive."   She also says:  "I detested him the the first moment I saw him."

Anjin confronts Buntaro saying that an apology is required for Buntaro having disturbed the peace of his home.  And much to the surprise of Anjin, Buntaro humbly apologizes.  (It is rude to disturb the peace of the house of your host.)  Buntaro then leaves. 

Omi-san cuts off the head of the old man of Anjin's servants.  When Anjin comes home he finds his pheasant gone.  He demands that Fujiko tell him who did it.  It was the old man, but now he's dead.  His head was cut off.  Anjin demands to know "what for".  For stealing the pheasant.  Anjin is a bit of a hot head and he calls Fujiko "You murdering bitch."  Fujiko goes inside the house and comes back out with the long samurai sword.  She puts it down on the ground and gets on her knees ready for decapitation.  Of course, Anjin refuses to cut off her head.  He later tells everyone that it was his own fault for having given that foolish order about the pheasant. 

Anjin talks with Lord Toranaga and tells him that he is troubled over the pheasant affair and the death of the old man.  Toranaga tells him to get over it; it was only a servant.  The old man asked for the privilege of acting on behalf of the entire servant staff.  More importantly, Lord Toshgi-yama has resigned from the Council of Regents.  Once again there are only four regents and again they cannot act.  In fact, the Council of Regents may never meet again.  Toranaga tells Anjin to prepare his ship for war. 

One day a couple of earthquakes hit the area.  Lord Toranaga falls into one of the crevices created by the quakes and Anjin jumps in to save him.  At home Fujiko is hurt by the effects of the quake and has to be taken to the hospital. 

Anjin wants to war on the Black Ship.  But the Portuguese are too essential for the interests of Japan and he is advised against it.  Toranaga says that war is coming and that they will attack first.  For saving him, Toranaga gives Anjin 200 samurai retainers, 10 horses and 20 kimonos.  Anjin is then made an official samurai.  He even gets his own village.  Also part of the reward for Anjin is a woman from the Willow World.  These women are supposed to be as graceful as willows.  Mariko tells Anjin that this night will only be for his pleasure.  The woman is Mariko's gift to Anjin.  The woman is Kiku-san who was the first woman Anjin had flirted with in Japan.  Kiku-san plays music for Mariko and Anjin.  Then Mariko starts to go.  Anjin does not want her to go.  He says that he does not even want the gift.  Nevertheless, Mariko leaves.  Kiku-san disrobes. 

Anjin is taken to Lord Toranaga's encampment.  Tomorrow he is to go to Yokose on his way to Edo.  Lord Toranaga will meet with his half-brother, Lord Saigawa Zatachi, Lord of Shinano.  The half-brother has been chosen  to be a regent on the Council of Regents.  Lord Zatachi is a traitor, allied with Lord Shido.  At a Yokose clearing, Lord Buntaro speaks to Mariko in private.  Lord Zatachi's procession approaches.  Father Alvito is there with other priests.  He talks a while with Anjin.  Lord Toranaga is supposed to go to Osaka, by order of the Council of Regents.  He either comes now or he will be ordered to commit seppuku.  Toranaga will give his answer tomorrow. 

Lord Toranaga orders Lord Buntaro to make peace with Mariko.  So Buntaro arranges a tea ceremony for Mariko.  At the ceremony he asks Mariko if they can be together once more.  Mariko shakes her head no.  She leaves.  Lord Buntaro is certain he knows the reason for her refusal: Anjin. 

Fathern Alvito punishes new priest Urano who was with a prostitute.  The punishment for the infraction will be thirty lashes.  But Urano says that he is a samurai and will not be lashed.  To make sure of this, he pulls out a knife.  He then tells the priests:  "I renounce the Christian God."  Father Alvito says this is the influence of Satan on the young man. 

Lord Toranaga has decided to go to Osaka.  If he fails in his mission, he may face overall defeat.  And if he is defeated, Mariko will have to commit seppuku.  Toranaga goes to Anjiro first.  Anjin and Mariko are to go to Edo.  Kiku will be going with them.  As they walk, Father Alvito is not pleased at all to see Urano accompanying Anjin and his group.  Mariko tells Anjin that they are doomed.  They will be together until Edo's first bridge (at which time she implies that she will commit suicide).  Father Alvito gives Anjin a Portuguese-Japanese dictionary, which Anjin is very happy to receive.  Now his mastery of the Japanese language will proceed faster. 

Port of Nimazo.  Father Alvito tells Rodriguez how powerful a man Anjin-san has become.  The man has become Lord Toranaga's confidant.  What these men are most afraid of is Toranaga giving Anjin back his ship.  That would represent a direct threat to the Black Ship and its trade.  Rodriguez says that he tried to kill Anjin on their first voyage together and now he has simply got to kill the man.  Rodriguez comes to visit Anjin.  The samurai under orders from Mariko insist on searching Rodriguez.  Rodriguez protests but the search goes ahead.  The searchers find two knives and a pistol and then two more knives and finally two more in the man's hatband.  Anjin now knows that Rodriguez's intention was to kill him.  Rodriguez tells him:  "Thou art too dangerous, Ingles."  He then tells Anjin that Lord Toranaga sold him to the evil Captain Ferriera. 

Anjin and the others are on the march again.  They come to the first bridge and cross it.  Mariko tells Anjin that it is the first and last bridge for them. 

Yedo Castle, the home of Lord Toranaga.  Lord Buntaro is there at the castle and Mariko goes with him.  A messenger delivers a notice to Anjin.  He will meet his crew and get his ship later.  Anjin wants to see Father Alvito.  Lord Buntaro pays a visit to Mariko.  In talking with her he gets so angry that he slashes a support beam with his sword.  Then when he tries to remove the sword it breaks.  Disgusted he rushes out.  Anjin sees his crew.  There are now only five of them left alive.  He tells them about his plans to get rich by taking the Portuguese Black Ship.  While with the men he picks up some of their lice and must get rid of some of his clothes and take a bath. 

Anjin and Mariko attend an audience between Lord Toranaga and his son Lord Suga and his wife Lady Genjiko.  Toronaga tells them that they are guilty of treason.  To prove their loyalty they will have to put their children to death.  The son leaves the room to kill his children, but it was all just a foul test.  Toranaga tells the parents that their children are safe.  A sliding door opens and their children come in to be with them.  Later Mariko leaves, but Anjin stays.  He talks with Lord Toranaga, who brings in Father Alvito.  Anjin wanted to see the father so that he could serve as translator for him.  Alvito translates Anjin's request so the request can be given to Toranaga.  Anjin asks that Lord Toranaga grant a divorce to Lady Toda (Mariko) and that he be allowed to ask for her hand in marriage.  At this Toranaga becomes very angry.  He tells Anjin through Alvito that it is a "very presumptuous request".  Then Anjin is dismissed.  Anjin is devastated by Toranaga's refusal.  He becomes despondent with a sadness he had never known before. 

Fujiko comes back to serve Anjin.  He looks at her legs and is astonished that they have healed.  Fujiko cries, weeping from the shame that she had not served Anjin as her duty required.  Anjin gets to see Mariko again and he tells her that he missed her very much.  She says the same to him.  He, however, is worried that the possible downfall of Lord Toranaga would mean the end of Mariko. 

Yabu delivers to Anjin the first of his eventual 200 samurai.  Anjin learns that if he does not accept the men, they will all have their heads cut off.  So Anjin accepts them all.  Mariko brings news.  Lord Onoshi will poison Lord Kiyama during the feast of the Blessed Saint Bernard.  These Lords are Christians and members of the Council of Regents.  What's worse, Lord Ishido knows all about this and has agreed to it.  The source of the information was Kiki-san, the prostitute. 

Lord Toranaga tells Anjin to go with Yabu and take his ship from Edo to Anjiro.  Mariko has to leave, but not even she knows why.   On the ship are Anjin's five surviving crew members.  Anjin tells them that the galley will tow them to Anjiro. 

Father Alvito and another priest walk to visit the construction site for the new Catholic cathedral.  They find Mariko at the site.  She wants the priest to help assure the stability of her relationship with Anjin in exchange for some important information.  Alvito agrees and she tells him about the poison plot.  Alvito jumps to the conclusion that the source of the information is the wayward priest Urano.  He then asks Mariko to confess her sins, but she is not ready to confess. 

At the village of Anjiro, Urano tells Anjin that he must weed out the Christians among his samurai for they are his enemy.  They put the samurai through a test.  The one Christian in the group tries to kill Anjin, but the other samurai kill him instead.  When Anjin's Dutch crew start to argue with him, the samurai ready themselves to kill the crew.   The crew stops arguing with the captain. 

Captain Ferriera tells Rodriguez to prepare the Black Ship for the voyage to Macao.  The captain then scolds Rodriguez for not killing Anjin when he had the chance. 

Anjin sails for Osaka.  There he needs to get permits for the voyage to Nagasaki.  The crew stays on board while Anjin goes to Osaka castle.  Anjin will have to attend a birthday reception for Lady Ochiba, the most powerful woman in Japan.  Meanwhile, Urano disguises himself as a Buddhist monk in order to find out information.  Toward the end of the day he returns to the galley.  But Urano has been followed.  An arrow narrowly misses Anjin, but another arrows hits Urano.  He collapses and dies.  Anjin has to tell his crew that they have to stay in Osaka until Lord Ishido says they can go. 

Anjin goes into the big hall for the birthday reception.  There he sees Mariko in the audience.  Anjin gives Lady Ochiba a beautiful flower for her birthday and hopes it is a gift befitting a queen. She seems very pleased.  She tells him that she is the widow of Lord Taiko and the mother of the heir to succeed Toranaga, but that she is not a queen. There is a little showdown between Lord Oshida and Mariko.  Lord Toranaga ordered her to escort Lady Kiri and Lady Sazuko back to Edo.  But Oshida tells her that they may not leave the castle.  She then tells the Lord that this means seppuku for her since she cannot live with the shame of her failure.  She leaves the hall.  In private, Mariko tells Anjin that she must commit seppuku before sunset.  Anjin tries to talk her out of it. 

Her act of seppuku will be a public one.  She prepares herself for death.  Nearly at the last minute, Lord Ishido comes to her and asks:  "Are you so eager to die?"  He then tells her that she and the other two women may leave at dawn tomorrow.  After he leaves, Mariko faints and Anjin is there to catch her. 

Omi-san and Kiku are in love, but Lord Toranaga has bought her contract, so they can never be together. 

Lord Ishido threatens to kill Yabu unless he cooperates with him in an attack on the Toranaga samurai in Osaka castle.  Later ninjas start scaling the castle wall and enter the castle proper.  Anjin watches Mariko sleeping in her bed.  She awakens and he tells her:  "I am glad thou art alive."  She tells him that she had a plan since the day of the earthquake to get the hostages out of Osaka castle.  The ninjas kill two Toranaga guards.  Then Yabu kills the head Toranaga samurai, Captain Yoshinaga.   Then the ninja start killing one samurai after another.  A huge fight between the ninjas and the samurai occurs in one of the halls near Anjin and Mariko.  Mariko and the other women try to escape the fighting, but there is fighting on all the floors of the Toranaga designated part of the castle.  The women and Anjin retreat to Lord Toranaga's secret room.  Mariko tries to slow down the ninjas by trying to negotiate with them through the secret room's locked door.  The ninjas get tired of talking and explode a bomb by the door.  The blast knocks the door right into Mariko and she dies.  Anjin is temporarily blinded by the blast. 

Anjin now has to make his way with bandaged eyes.  (On the good side, he is expected to be able to see again.)  Like this he attends the funeral for Mariko.  Later Brother Michael comes to tell Anjin that he has been sent to be his guide back to his ship.  Anjin does not know if he can trust Brother Michael, but what choice does Anjin really have?  They are escorted by Christian samurai.  Brother Michael says they will make a stop at the Jesuit Mission.  Anjin asks:  "When does the Inquisition begin?"  Father Dell'Aqua greets Anjin and says he will personally escort Anjin to his ship.  But at the dock, they run into Captain Ferriera and his crew.  He tells Father Dell'Aqua to stop intervening in what is a military decision.  He wants the father to turn Anjin over to him.  Anjin is a danger to them.  But Father Dell'Aqua tells the captain that he will excommunicate the captain and all his crew and will have Ferriera removed from his position as captain.  Rodriguez is there and he tells the captain that the father can do it and that he should order the men back aboard their ship.  But the captain has no plans to leave.  He pulls out his pistol and the samurai archers with the priests hit the captain with a number of arrows.  He falls dead.  Father Dell'Aqua then tells Rodriguez to be the captain.  And Rodriguez will have the captain's share of the profits for himself.  And he will also be the Governor of Macao.  Anjin tells Rodriguez that he will sail after him and catch him at sea.  It is then that Rodriguez tells him the bad news.  The Erasmus has burned.  Anjin can't believe it, but Father Dell'Agua confirms the destruction of the ship. 

Anjin gets on the galley.  Yabu and the crew are all there.  They head back to Anjiro.  Back in Anjiro crewman Vinck blames Captain Blackthorne for their predicament.  The man starts to go crazy.  He starts running on the beach shouting and screaming and finally drops dead.  To find the man, Anjin takes off his blindfold.  He can see!  He finds Vinck's dead body. 

Lord Toranaga and Lord Buntaro arrive in Anjiro.  When Father Alvito shows up, Anjin blames him for the burning of the ship.  The Father denies any responsibility for what happened.  Lord Toranaga gives Anjin Kiku's contract.  This means that the woman now belongs to Anjin.  He owns her.  But Anjin does not want the contract.  So he gives it to Omi-san.  The couple are ecstatically happy and grateful for now they may marry. 

Lord Toranaga asks Yabu why he killed Captain Yoshinaga.  The two men who guarded Yabu's quarters found Captain Yoshinaga dead there shortly after entering the quarters with Yabu and even more shortly after Yabu left his quarters.  Yabu will have to commit seppuku. 

Father Alvito tells Anjin about Mariko's non-confession to him.  He adds that Anjin will never leave Japan.  He also declares that he wants peace with Anjin.  At the public suicide for Yabu the man gives his sword to Anjin.  He tells him:  "You will see how a real samurai dies."  He uncomplainingly stabs himself in the belly on the left side and pushes the short sword over to the right side of his body.  His head is then cut off. 

Lord Toranaga gives Anjin the village of Anjiro.  Then he also gives Anjin a letter from Mariko.  (As an aside, he asks Anjin if he is alive. Yes is the answer. "Then act alive," he says.)  In the letter Mariko declares her abiding love for Anjin.  She says she conceded his ship to the enemy in order to spare his life.  She goes on to tell him to build another ship.  From her personal estate she has provided him with the necessary funds to construct the ship.  She then tells him to capture next year's Black Ship. 

Lord Toranaga also wants Anjin to build a ship.  It was he who had the original ship burned and it was also to spare Anjin's life. 

On October 21, in the mountains near Sekigahara Lord Toranaga defeated Lord Ishido.  Some 40,000 heads were taken.  Toranaga sent Ishido to Osaka where he was buried up to his neck.  People passing by Ishido were invited to saw on the man's neck with a bamboo saw.  Ishido died three days after he was buried.  Lord Torinaga became the Shogun, appointed by the emperor. 

 


Historical Background:

1333-1573 -- ASHIKAGA PERIOD

1333  --   Ashikaga Takauji (commander of a shogunate army from eastern Japan) changed sides and supported a western revolt rather than put it down.  He drove emperor Godaigo from Kyoto and named another member of the imperial family emperor.  Ashikaga had himself appointed shogun.

The period was one of almost continuous wars between warrior clans.  The Ashikaga shoguns became powerless.  Japan became a feudal land dominated by the daimyo, or feudal lords, of later Japanese feudalism.  A warrior class, known as the samurai, came into existence.

1543 -- the Portuguese won a trading foothold in Japan.  When they arrived they found a Japan in a civil war of warlords (daimyo).  The Portuguese find an alien world that appears completely different from anything known from Europe (and yet the Japanese appeared civilized and cultured).  The Japanese, in turn, believed the Portuguese to be barbarians.  For instance, while the Japanese bathed every day, it was rare if a European had a bath more than once every two months.

Within 50 years, the Portuguese were able to build over 200 Catholic churches and convert a quarter of a million Japanese, mostly in southern Japan. 

1543  --  birth of Tokugawa Ieyasu who would become the Shogun of Japan and establish the Tokugawa Period lasting some 265 years. As a child  he was sent as a hostage to the ruling daimyo as insurance that his father would follow the daimyo's orders. (Ieyasu would never see his father again.)

1558  -- at age 15, Ieyasu became a samurai, able to wear the two swords of the samurai (one short and one long with the short one for committing suicide in case of dishonor or on the daimyo's orders). 

1561  -- at age 18, Ieyasu was married with two children.  He fought alongside his daimyo.  When his master died, Ieyasu became an independent daimyo on his family's estate. 

1568 -- Oda Nobunaga overpowered the imperial court and the Ashikaga shogun in Kyoto. Ieyasu allied himself with this man, the most powerful daimyo in Japan. 

 

1573-1603  --  AZUCHI-MOMOYAMA PERIOD

Oda Nobunaga took about half of Japan under his control, with the other half very afraid of him.  He adapted his military strategy to use more effectively the new firearms copied from the Portuguese weapons.  He armed 3,000 of his foot soldiers with rifles.  At the Battle of Nagashino his riflemen were able to decimate a charging enemy force of 10,000. 

The introduction of firearms changed the face of samurai war (and was a hint of the eventual end of the samurai at the finish of the Tokugawa Regime).  Now faceless ranks would shoot at each other from a distance.   

1582 -- Oda Nobunaga was assassinated by one of his generals who had turned traitor. His ablest general, Hideyoshi, subdued all opposition thereby bringing an end to the long period of civil wars. Ieyasu watched from a distance (but eventually decided to ally himself with the new head man). 

Ieyasu was rewarded with a vast domain.  He made his headquarters at Edo (the future Tokyo), then a remote fishing village.  He had built a massive 5-story fortification in Edo. 

Hideyoshi decided to fortify his castle, Osaka Castle.  It was thought to be impregnable. 

1587 -- Hideyoshi decreed that all Christian missionaries should leave Japan, but did little to enforce this.

1592 -- Hideyoshi with 160,000 men invaded and overran Korea but was forced back by Chinese armies.

Hideyoshi had the power, but in order to be named Shogun, he had to curry the favor of the less powerful Emperor of Japan whose court made the actual Shogun selection.  One of his daughters married the Emperor, but Hideyoshi still was not given the title of Shogun. 

In his old age, Hideyoshi became increasingly cruel.   (He did not produce a male heir until he was 60 years old.)

1597 -- Hideyoshi had six European priests and twenty Japanese Christians crucified.

Shortly before his death, Hideyoshi called the five most powerful daimyo together.  He had them swear that they would guard his young sun, Hideori.  Ieyasu gave his personal pledge to protect the son from harm. 

1598 -- Hideyoshi dead. His armies promptly withdrew from Korea.

Ieyasu made his move to become the dominant daimyo and eventually Shogun.  He sent one division to the Osaka Castle where his enemies were gathering.  The division took Osaka Castle.  Ieyasu then pursued the rest of the forces of the daimyos.  At the Battle of Sekihara, he won the day when some of the damiyo joined him and his forces. 

1600  --  William Adams, the first Englishman in Japan.  The Portuguese Jesuits had him accused of being a pirate and had him thrown into jail.  "I looked every day to die," wrote Adams.  But the Protestant Adams was saved by the curiosity of Ieyasu, who was suspicious of the Catholics.  Adams answered question after question thrown at him by Ieyasu. 

Adams started on his climb to be an important person in Japan through his knowledge of ships and ship building.  Ieyasu wanted his own fleet of trading vessels and Adams had apprenticed as a shipwright.  Adams was instructed to build two ships with the help of Japanese craftsmen. 

Adams, who had quickly learned Japanese, became Ieyasu's interpreter, replacing the Catholic interpreter.  Furthermore, Adams became the commercial agent for trade.  He was quickly able to negotiate good terms of trade with the Dutch East Indies Company.  He married a Japanese woman and was named a samurai.  He was given an estate with 70 to 80 servants.  With all his fame and money, Adams lost his desire to return to England. 

1600  --  Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had been Hideyoshi's general in eastern Japan, defeated other contenders in a great battle and became undisputed ruler of all Japan. 

 

1603 - 1868 THE TOKUGAWA REGIME

1603  --  Ieyasu named Shogun.

Tokugawa Ieyasu made his castle at Edo, now Tokyo, the center of government. He took the title of shogun but left the emperor and his court undisturbed with nominal authority in Kyoto.

Ieyasu did not have an easy job of it for he had to control 260 warlords complete with samurai armies.  To do this, Ieyasu established a feudal structure with a fixed social order that was strict, rigid and almost all-encompassing.  The people were divided into clearly defined positions, each with its own list of complex and repressive rules covering everything from what one could eat to what to wear. 

The shipwrecked and stranded Governor of Philippines wrote that the Japanese were segregated by trade and occupation.  The samurai were the elite, followed by the farmers, then the artisans and, finally the tradesmen (who were viewed as the parasites of society). 

1616  --  Ieyasu fell ill while on a hawking expedition and later died. 

 


Source:

Used the PBS series on Empires (Japan) for details on Ieyasu and William Adams.

 

 

 

Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)