1921 (Taisho 10) Monday, October 10 Novelist James Clavell was born in Sydney, Australia. His father was Richard Charles Clavell, a British naval officer stationed in Australia. When my father’s mission to Australia was completed in 1922, I returned home with my family.
James received his childhood education in Portsmouth, home to the British Navy, but later returned to Australia where he served in the Royal Artillery Corps and fought the Japanese during the Pacific War from 1941. However, during the Singapore war, he was captured by the Japanese army and imprisoned in Changi Prison.
Originally built in 1936 by the British Straits Colony Administration as a prison with a capacity of 600 people, Changi Prison is said to have accommodated 3000 people during the Japanese occupation. The nearby British barracks, Seralan Barracks, also held 50,000 POWs and killed about 850 people. The mortality rate was 27%. James Clavell survived and entered Birmingham University after the war. There he meets and marries the actress April Stride.
After a few years writing in England, he moved to New York and then Hollywood in 1954. In 1963, he drew attention for writing the war film “The Great Escape,” and in 1966, he wrote and directed the school film “Always the Sun in the Mind.”.
After that, he became a novelist, researching Japan in the early Edo period for 3 years, and published his masterpiece, Shōgun, in 1975. The novel became a bestseller and was dramatized on NBC in 1980. Set in the Edo period, it is the story of British navigator John Blackthorne who survives in a different culture.
The main character is of course modeled on William Adams (Miura Anjin), but his exaggerated expressions are far from the truth. The story revolves around these three people: this Englishman John Blackthorne, Shogun Toranaga Yoshii modeled on Ieyasu Tokugawa, and Mariko Toda modeled on Gracia Hosokawa. In the drama, Shogun Toranaga Yoshii was played by Toshiro Mifune and Mariko Toda by Yoko Shimada. Masanobu Honda’s model’s chief retainer, Kashiwagi Yabe Shigeru, was played by Frankie Sakai.
The drama was broadcast on TV in Japan and became popular in Japan after a shortened version was released in theaters.
In June of this year, a remake of the drama “Shougun ” is being produced in the United States. It will be aired from next year 2022, and it will be Hiroyuki Sanada who plays Shogun Toranaga Yoshii, Anna Sawai who plays Mariko Toda, and Tadanobu Asano who plays chief retainer Shigeru Kashiwagi. It is an American style Taiga drama, and I think it will be broadcasted in Japan. I’m looking forward to it.
Author James Clavell died of cancer on September 7, 1994 in Vevey, Switzerland, on the north shore of Lake Geneva. He was 72 years old.