When I first decided to start this blog, I spent a lot of time thinking of a good name. One thing that kept popping up in my head was ‘The Japans’.
The term comes from the novel ‘Shogun’ by James Clavell. ‘Shogun’ is the story of an English pilot, John Blackthorne, who washes up on the coast of Japan and is confronted with feudal Japan around 1600 AD. He is forced to adapt to Japanese ways and even becomes involved in the power struggle between daimyo’s Ishido and Toranaga (based on Tokugawa Ieyasu).
Blackthorne and his crew consistently refer to Japan as ‘The Japans’. It is a fabled island kingdom where no Englishman or Dutchman has ever set foot before. In the beginning of the book, the crew even expresses some doubts as to the existence of these mythical Japans. But soon enough they discover that The Japans are very real indeed.
I remember watching the TV mini-series as a child. When I grew older, I read the book and have reread it multiple times since. Both the TV series and the book made a big impression of me. Although the book is perhaps not 100% historically accurate, it really helped me to get a better understanding of Japanese culture and history. I was fascinated by the culture shock that Blackthorne went through. Although the book deals with feudal Japanese culture, I found that it helped deepen my understanding of modern Japanese culture as well. ‘Shogun’ played a big part in my fascination with Japan. I would therefore like to dedicate this post to the late Mr. James Clavell. Thank you for writing such a wonderful book!
If you had not already beaten me to it, a blog could be titled “Is this the Japans?” — Blackthorne’s first question when waking up there : )
That’s a really good suggestion! Perhaps even better than just ‘The Japans’. In any case more poetic ^_^
I cannot wait to start reading it myself! Thanks to a project in which I had to do some research on japanese culture I discovered this magic land, and I am now addicted to its culture. I’ve set my mind to read this book to deepen my knowledge, and after reading this post I am more keen than ever to do so! Thank you very much!
I hope you will like the book!
I did wonder where the name came from. Thank you for clearing that up!
Because of writing this post, I have been thinking about it a bit more myself as well. The choice for The Japans was of course because of Shogun, but in retrospect one might also say that there are so many different sides to Japan, and so many contradictions, that it is possible to speak of multiple Japans. If you permit me to get slightly philosophical here… :-p
I still have yet to read the book or watch the miniseries it’s based on. I was a small child when the miniseries was released and I remember a commercial that showed a samurai pissing on Richard Chamberlain. Needless to say I was beyond shocked! Now that I’m older I think I can handle watching it. Must try the book as well. Thanks for reminding me of it!
In the beginning of the book/ TV series, there are a few harsh moments, but after that, it’s pretty tame compared to most modern-day series.