TV

Shogun: The Real History Behind FX’s Epic Miniseries


First a book, then a miniseries, and now another miniseries: Shogun draws from a rich real life history.

“SHŌGUN” -- Pictured: Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga.
Photo: Kurt Iswarienko | FX

FX’s extravagent miniseries Shōgun brings a very old story to modern audiences. 

Starring Hiroyuki Sanada (who also serves as one of the producers), Cosmo Jarvis, and Anna Sawai, this 10-part limited series is based on the 1975 James Clavell novel, Shōgun, which follows John Blackthorne. A 17th century English pilot-major, Blackthorne becomes stranded off the coast of Japan, ends up captured by samurai, is forced to assimilate into Japanese life, and is thrust into the center of a political battle between those vying to claim the coveted position of military ruler, or shogun, including Lord Yoshii Toranaga. 

Among the executive producers are Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo (who together wrote the first two episodes), as well as Clavell’s daughter Michaela. Before you gear up for this tale of sailors, warriors, and a lust for power, let’s break down all the details you need to know about the source material for this larger-than-life project, including some surprising connections to real-life historical figures.

Shogun: A Book, Then a Miniseries

The third novel in Clavell’s six-book “Asian Saga”, Shōgun focuses on the clash of cultures between Eastern and Western civilizations, with plenty of political intrigue and a dash of clandestine romance. However, this isn’t the first time Clavell’s tale has shown up on television, as Shōgun would first grace the small screen over 40 years ago.  

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