The English Samurai from Shogun is coming to Sadler’s Wells!

Anjin leafletThere’s a treat coming up at Sadler’s Wells. From 31 January to 9 February 2013 they’re staging Anjin – The Shogun and the English Samurai.

Anjin is the story of William Adams, an English navigator, thought to be the first Englishman ever to reach Japan, where he became known as Miura Anjin – the pilot of Miura – the English Samurai. 

William AdamsAdams set sail as a master pilot in a fleet of five ships that set off from Rotterdam in 1598. After a series of disasters one remaining ship, with a mere twenty men on board out of the original crew of a hundred, limped into port in Kyushu in southern Japan in April 1600.

Adams' ship, the LiefdeDespite an initial attempt by the local Portuguese Jesuit priest to have them executed as pirates, Adams became a close adviser to the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu and helped his navy build their first western-style ship.

Red Seal ShipHe helped the East India Company to begin trading with Japan and the Shogun granted him a title and an estate in what is now Yokosuka near Tokyo. Adams lived out his life in prosperity in Japan, marrying a Japanese girl with whom he had two children and becoming the first and only officially recognised foreign samurai. He’s buried in Hirado near Nagasaki.

William Adams' gravestoneIf you’ve read James Clavell’s Shogun you’ll know him better by his fictional name of John Blackthorne. The novel was a blockbuster, described as ‘one of the great page turners of all time’ by the Good Book Guide. Its most successful manifestation was the TV miniseries in 1981 starring Richard Chamberlain, Toshiro Mifune and  Yoko Shimada – it won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for best TV series.

Blackthorne and MarikoYou can buy the book and the DVD boxed set on Amazon.

Shogun DVDThe play is an English-Japanese co-production with a cast that mixes English and Japanese actors (with English surtitles) and is directed by Gregory Doran, the newly appointed artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s written by Mike Poulton (best known for his translations of Chekhov) and Shoichiro Kawai and was first performed at the Galaxy Theatre in Tokyo in 2009. This year it’s showing at the Kanazawa Arts Theatre and the Aoyama Theatre in Tokyo before coming to London.

Scene from AnjinThe lead role of Anjin is taken by Stephen Boxer, Lady Mariko is Yoshiko Tokoshima (who starred as Edith Piaf in Tokyo last year) and Tokugawa Ieyasu is played by Masachika Ichimura who has a long list of film and stage credits including the Engineer in Miss Saigon last year.

Scene from AnjinMasachika Ichimura in AnjinIt’s an epic production you won’t want to miss. There are only eleven performances and tickets are already on sale so head over to the Sadler’s Wells website now.

4 thoughts on “The English Samurai from Shogun is coming to Sadler’s Wells!

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year! – and some January reminders | Sequins and Cherry Blossom

  2. Pingback: England meets Japan – four hundred years ago | Sequins and Cherry Blossom

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