What John Blackthorne Eats & Why Mariko Warned Him
4 mins read

What John Blackthorne Eats & Why Mariko Warned Him


  • John eating natto in Shōgun is a humorous moment, but it’s a traditional Japanese dish dating back hundreds of years.
  • Despite its slimy texture and strong odor, natto is full of fiber, probiotics, and vitamin K12, making it a healthy dish.
  • Blackthorne’s reaction to eating natto shows his assimilation into Japanese culture, despite initial hesitations.



The natto dish that John Blackthorne eats in Shōgun is one of the more humorous moments of the acclaimed historical series. Shōgun episode 4 “The Eightfold Fence” takes place almost entirely in the fishing village of Ajiro, which is where the questionable daimyo Yabishige calls home. Lord Toranaga returns Yabushige to his army and departs for Edo, or modern-day Tokyo, dropping off his son Yoshii Nagakado and the newly appointed Hatamoto John Blackthorne to train Yabushige’s men for an impending war.

After being given the esteemed rank of Hatamoto by Toranaga, Blackthorne is assigned designated living quarters in Ajiro as well as a consort, Usami Fuji. Overwhelmed by the display of generosity and respect from Toranaga and Lady Mariko, Blackthorne initially resists all of the luxurious offerings made to him as the new honorable Hatamoto. Throughout the episode, Blackthorne learns to assimilate better into the Japanese culture, speaking the language, forming relationships with several characters, and even eating traditional Japanese dishes such as natto.

Shogun’s Natto Is A Traditional Japanese Food Dish Dating Back Hundreds Of Years

Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne and Anna Sawai as Mariko in Shōgun

In Shōgun episode 4, Blackthorne is intrigued by the small dish that both Lady Mariko and Usami Fuji are eating. Blackthorne is not offered it at first, presumably because neither Mariko nor Usami Fuji believe that his Western sensibilities and palate will find it appetizing. Blackthorne insists on trying it and likens it to a moldy cheese. Both Mariko and Usami Fuji get a laugh out of Blackthorne’s innocent enthusiasm, but the series does not delve into what exactly natto is.

Natto is a beloved and longstanding Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. As depicted in Shōgun, natto has a slimy, gooey texture and a strong odor which some may find off-putting. However, natto is an incredibly healthy dish that is full of fiber, probiotics, and vitamin K12. According to Healthline, “natto was made by wrapping boiled soybeans in rice straw, which naturally contains the bacteria Bacillus subtilis on its surface.” Natto remains a popular Japanese dish and is often accompanied by soy sauce, mustard, and chives.


John Blackthorne’s Role As Hatomoto & His Consort In Shogun Explained

John Blackthorne is honored by Lord Toranaga who gives him the title of Hatamoto in Shōgun, but there could be hidden implications behind the move.

John Blackthorne’s Reaction To Eating Natto & Why Lady Mariko Warned Him

Despite the surprised reactions and warnings from Lady Mariko and Usami Fuji, natto is not made out of anything that doesn’t sound too appetizing, such as an obscure part of an animal or fish. The smell and texture seem to be the greatest boundaries that can prevent someone from enjoying natto, although it is still a very popular dish in Japan. While Blackthorne called the taste “cheesy”, natto is often described as earthy or nutty with an umami taste. Blackthorne appears to like natto well enough, which acts as a key example of his assimilation into Japanese culture in Shōgun.

Shogun 2024 Poster


Shogun is an FX original mini-series set in 17th Century Japan. Shogun follows John Blackthorne, who becomes a samurai warrior but is unknowingly a pawn in Yoshii Toranaga’s plan to become Shogun. The series stars Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne and Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga, along with Anna Sawai, Tadanobu Asano, and Yûki Kedôin.

Cosmo Jarvis , Hiroyuki Sanada , Anna Sawai , Tadanobu Asano , Yûki Kedôin


Streaming Service(s)

Maegan Houang , Rachel Kondo , Justin Marks , Emily Yoshida

Frederick E.O. Toye , Jonathan van Tulleken

Source: Healthline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *