I am not a fan of TV series. However, I have been following the Shogun miniseries with a fair amount of interest, mainly because I am intrigued by the setting and historical period covered. As is always the case with modern TV series, it started very well (the first two to three episodes). Then it slowed down, getting stuck in the main characters’ fanciful and improbable personal affairs and agendas, straying from the main plot, essentially muddling along until, I assume, the last episode of the season that will end with a bang.

In any case, I thought the characters were more or less fictional until today, when I found that, no, the main ones are historical, and the story is, by and large, true.

In 1600 a Dutch galleon arrived on the shores of a small fief on Kyushu, the westernmost of Japan’s four main islands. It was the first Dutch ship to reach Japan. Among the crew was an English navigator, William Adams, who managed to gain the trust of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a powerful warlord who became a shogun (the military leader of the samurai caste) in 1603. Adams eventually rose to the rank of Hatamoto, the shogun’s direct retainer. How did an English navigator come to serve the shogun? To answer this, we must first look at the situation in Japan at the time and the policies of Ieyasu.

The History Today article, available here, confirms that the main plotline has solid historical roots. By the way, I just realized it’s Tuesday. A new episode is due today, at least in my part of the world.