Posted on March 25, 2024

Black Journalist Condemns Japanese Historical Drama for Lack of Racial Diversity

Natasha Biase, The Publica, March 11, 2024

A newly released Japanese period drama premiering on Hulu and FX is being slammed as “historically inaccurate” for excluding Black people. In an op-ed, Black journalist William Spivey claims that some “early real-life Shoguns” were Black and that Black people lived in feudal Japan.

Shogun premiered with its first two episodes on February 27, 2024, and follows the story of a European sailor’s clash with a powerful feudal lord in 1500s Japan. {snip}

But while Shogun has received praise from reviewers and audiences for its stunning cinematography, not everyone is happy with the series. One Black journalist has condemned the series for excluding Black people, who he claims existed in 1600s Japan.

“Black people were in Japan in 1600 and before, though Japan could teach Florida a thing or two about rewriting history, explains Spivey, adding the claim that one of the early Shoguns, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758–811), was Black.


{snip} Spivey also mistakes a quote by a French Naval doctor from the 1870s for a Japanese Proverb:

“For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood. — Japanese Proverb,” wrote Spivey.


In addition to many online pointing out the inaccurate context of the quote, some, like one user on the subreddit r/Facepalm, noted that “black blood” is not literal and comes from the French slang “sang noir,” historically used to describe non-noble blood.