An English ship pilot, John Blackthorne, exploring Asian seas in the 1600s, is shipwrecked on the coast of Japan. The popular movie "The Last Samurai" borrowed liberally from this theme. Much like Tom Cruise's character, Blackthorne awakens in an alien world, and must endure a crash-course in Japenese culture. These lessons encompass everything from dining etiquitte, social manners, the proper way to clothe yourself, to the rigid expectations of the caste system--each man to his own way of life, appropriate to his rank.
Blackthorne attempts to learn as much as he can in an effort to save his ship and crew. Like Tom Cruise's character in "The Last Samurai," Blackthorne is ordered to live in the home of a local villager, and is given tokens of respect, like clothes and baths, because he is a high-ranking foreigner. A translator, Mariko, is ordered to accompany Blackthorne daily, and to help him learn as much as possible of the Japanese, including their language, so that they, in turn, can learn from him. Prejudice against foreigners runs rampant among the Japanese, but luckily for Blackthorne, the feudal lord Toranaga values his knowledge of seamanship, and grants him the honorable rank of samurai. With his new rank, Blackthorne is free to pursue his own ends, including love (Mariko) and revenge (the Spanish Catholics warring against his native England). Lord Toranaga has his own plans for Blackthorne though.
This synopsis report prepared by JoshuaLJenkins