“We need that kind of hero” : Hiroyuki Sanada Reveals Shōgun’s Secret Message to the World

Hiroyuki Sanada shares how they had both Western & Japanese cast and crew working together on creating Shōgun.

"We need that kind of hero" : Hiroyuki Sanada Reveals Shōgun's Secret Message to the World


  • Hiroyuki Sanada shares one message that the cast and crew of Shōgun would like the world to know.
  • The Japanese actor mentions one major difference between 1980's & 2024's adaptation of the novel.
  • Sanada explains how they stayed authentic to the source material.
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Created by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, Shōgun is a limited historical drama series based on the 1975 novel of the same name by James Clavell. The story follows the collision of two ambitious men from different worlds and a mysterious female samurai. The show stars an acclaimed Japanese cast including Hiroyuki Sanada, Cosmo Jarvis, Anna Sawai, Tadanobu Asano, and more.


The ten-episode series premiered with two episodes premiering on February 27th, 2024 and new episodes releasing weekly. The series received a positive response from the critics upon its release with special mention for the performances of the actors, its commitment to source material, and immersion. Hiroyuki Sanada recently shared his views on working on the show that has already been dubbed as a ‘must watch’.

Hiroyuki Sanada
Hiroyuki Sanada as Lord Yoshii Toranaga

Hiroyuki Sanada on Shōgun being an opportunity to introduce Japanese culture to the world

Actor Hiroyuki Sanada who had appeared in Brad Pitt starrer Bullet Train plays Lord Yoshii Toranaga in the series. Yoshii Toranaga uses sailor-turned-samurai John Blackthorne played by Cosmo Jarvis; in his quest to become Shōgun. On the red carpet in Los Angeles, the actor spoke to Screen Rant and shared his experience of working on a historical drama.


Sanada was asked about what the audience could expect from Shōgun to which he said,

“I respect the novel. It’s a great story, and a great chance to introduce our culture to the world. That’s why we wanted to make it authentic as much as possible; to believe the story and the character.”

Hiroyuki Sanada
Hiroyuki Sanada says Shogun will introduce Japanese culture to the world

The actor continued,

“For me, playing Toranaga is very important, especially for now. Toranaga’s model, the real Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, stopped the war period and created the peaceful era for about 260 years. So I thought we need that kind of hero, especially for now. A meaningful role for now, for me.”

Hiroyuki Sanada also added that making the show has a great message for the world to know which is that the Western and Japanese cast and crew are working together. He noted that they have immense respect for each other, as they learn and create this story together. The actor mentioned that the show can serve as a great model to make a better future together.


Hiroyuki Sanada talks about one major difference between the original and his Shōgun series

In an interview with Salon, the actor was asked about the evolution of the story from the original television show which premiered in 1980 being centered on John Blackthorne’s character and the 2024 adaptation which is centered on his character. He shared with the publication,

“We created the script, not only through the telling of the story through blue eyes but more Japanese lenses to explain our culture or the story. So that’s a big difference, I think. Most of the audience will see Feudal Japan, 1600 Japan through Blackthron’s eyes at the beginning.”

Sanada continued that as the story progresses, the audience will get to understand what his character is thinking, and what other Japanese characters are thinking. He noted that Jarvis’ character will be seen learning Japanese words little by little, wearing a kimono, and a sword and he is going to understand the culture. He noted,

“Like him, the audience will understand, step by step each episode.”

Hiroyuki Sanada
Hiroyuki Sanada shares one major difference about 1980 and 2024 adaptation

During the conversation, he dwelled upon the fact that even though a white man wrote the novel, they have tried not to make the show too westernized or modern but stick to authentic as 1600 Japan. He mentioned that they had a Japanese crew with experience in historical drama with them to help them keep the authenticity of the show alive.


Sanada also shared that having wigs, costume props and master of gesture helped them as well.

Shōgun premiered on FX and Hulu with new episodes dropping on Tuesdays.


Written by Avneet Ahluwalia

Articles Published: 173

Avneet is a Creative Writer at Fandom Wire with six years of professional expertise as a writer with artistic flair. Avneet combines her years of experience, love of the entertainment industry, and understanding of the expressive capabilities of words into her work.

In addition to her love of Pop Culture including celebrities, TV series, K-dramas, and K-pop, Avneet also prefers to read novels (hard copies), engage in discussions on anything at all, and take in what she sees and hears of those around her.

Avneet's writing style evolved over the years, from writing for beauty pageants to drafting true stories to writing stories about celebrities, television series, and movies. Despite this, she remains committed to discovering something new every day. Avneet believes that her writing will influence the readers since she strives to learn and grow with every piece of writing.

PS: She will never give up on persuading people to read "Normal People" by Sally Rooney.