James Clavell's Shōgun

Shōgun is based on the true story of English pilot Will Adams, who was shipwrecked in feudal Japan and became a samurai and trusted advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who united Japan and became shōgun.

In this 1980 mini-series based on James Clavell's best-selling book, Richard Chamberlain plays English pilot John Blackthorne (Adams), with Toshiro Mifune as warlord Toranaga (Tokugawa).

Originally presented in six parts on TV (as described in this trailer), our version is complete but is in four parts, a bit over two hours each. Click on each title for the episode:

James Clavell's Shōgun - Part 1 of 4

In the year 1600, the Dutch ship Erasmus is shipwrecked in Japan. Pilot-Major John Blackthorne comes to the attention of Lord Toranaga, but the Portuguese are trying to convince the Japanese that Blackthorne is a pirate.

James Clavell's Shōgun - Part 2 of 4

Pilot-Major Blackthorne informs Lord Toranaga about the Portuguese and Spanish conquests of the world, and the threatened Portuguese mount a plan to have him killed. Meanwhile, Blackthorne is quickly learning Japanese from the Lady Mariko.

James Clavell's Shōgun - Part 3 of 4

Blackthorne's infatuation with his teacher, Lady Mariko, causes him problems. Now a hatamoto samurai who has been granted 200 retainers, Blackthorne is instructed by Toranaga to prepare for war, and to join Toranaga at his castle in Edo.

James Clavell's Shōgun - Part 4 of 4

Toranaga has been ordered to appear before the Council of Regents in Osaka Castle. But he has prepared for this day, and the warring factions in Japan move toward the great battle that will decide the fate of the country.

The mini-series was a television milestone. Filmed entirely in Japan, it broke ground in its use of the Japanese language, and also in the realistic (and somewhat graphic) portrayal of life in feudal Japan. For many in the US, this was the first introduction to Japanese history and culture since the end of World War II.


  • Richard Chamberlain as Pilot-Major John Blackthorne (Anjin-san)
  • Toshiro Mifune as Yoshi Toranaga, Lord of the Kwanto
  • Yôko Shimada as Lady Toda Mariko
  • Damien Thomas as Father Martin Alvito
  • John Rhys-Davies as Portuguese Pilot Vasco Rodrigues
  • Takeshi Ôbayashi as Urano
  • Michael Hordern as Friar Domingo
  • Yuki Meguro as Omi, Head Samurai of Anjiro
  • Frankie Sakai as Lord Kasigi Yabu, Daimyo of Izu
  • Leon Lissek as Father Sebastio
  • Vladek Sheybal as Captain Ferreira
  • Hideo Takamatsu as Lord Buntaro
  • Nobuo Kaneko as Ishido, Ruler of Osaka Castle
  • Orson Welles, narrator

WikiPedia: Shogun (TV miniseries)

Shogun (1980) in Internet Movie Database

WikiPedia: Shogun (novel)

WikiPedia: Will Adams

WikiPedia: Tokugawa Ieyasu