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Goin’ Japanesque!

6 Recommended “Taiga” Drama Series: History TV You Can’t Take Your Eyes Off

Taiga Dramas are television drama series that enact stories from Japanese history. NHK (Nihon Hoso Kyokai or Japan Broadcasting Corporation) has shown 1 series each year since 1963. Out of these drama series, this article introduces a select few that we’d love for you to watch. If you have not seen a Taiga drama yet, we would recommend that you start with one of the six introduced here.


1. Ryomaden

First aired: 2010
Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama (as Sakamoto Ryoma)

It’s a story about master swordsman Sakamoto Ryoma. This series is recommended if you have heard of the name Sakamoto Ryoma but are unfamiliar with what he is known for. The series depicts Ryoma and his growth starting from childhood; it shows a cry-baby side of Ryoma that isn’t usually associated with the typical Ryoma figure. Another highlight of this series is Ryoma’s mother’s love toward her son Ryoma.


2. Toshiie to Matsu

First aired: 2002
Starring: Toshiaki Karasawa (as Maeda Toshiie), Nanako Matsushima (as Matsu)

This is a story about a couple; Toshiie who was a master of the weapon “yari” (straight-headed spear) and his wife Matsu. Toshiie, being a warlord with abilities that rivaled the 3 rulers (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu) and Matsu who had always supported him from the sidelines; watching this series will let you realize that she was not only a supporter but a critical part of his life. No matter what kind of difficulties he faced, she responded each time with the phrase “Omakase kudasarimase (Leave it to me)”. This phrase has indeed become the it-phrase.


3. Shinsengumi

First aired: 2004
Starring: Shingo Katori (as Kondo Isami)

They started out as a hodge podge group of commoners, but with the commander Kondo Isami as their leader, they grow into the mightiest fighter squad of Kyoto, the Shinsengumi. The series depicts how they develop into this strong group and how they shape history. Each individual’s death is depicted in a very graphic scene and the work also shows the full detail of how the deaths affected the lives of those they left behind.

Related: 8 Sightseeing Routes for Kyoto Shinsengumi: Visit Famous and Unknown Places with Ease!


4. Atsuhime

First aired: 2008
Starring: Aoi Miyazaki (as Atsuhime)

This series features Atsuhime, a woman who was born into a branch of Satsuma’s (Kagoshima Prefecture) Shimazu family during the late Edo Period (1603 – 1868) when Japan was a closed country. The highlight of the series is the change in environment surrounding Atsuhime as she marries into the ruling Tokugawa family. It’s impressive to see how the things she wears and the people who wait on her become more and more lavish throughout the series. For women who feel that history can be a tough subject, this series that shows the last days of the Tokugawa regime from a woman’s point of view is highly recommended.


5. Dokuganryu Masamune

First aired: 1987
Starring: Ken Watanabe (as Date Masamune)

This is a super famous series even out of all Taiga dramas; recording average audience view ratings of 39.7%. The role of Date Masamune, who lost sight in his right eye in his youth due to illness is played by none other than Last Samurai Ken Watanabe – now a Hollywood star. Ken Watanabe is still young in this series, but his acting is dynamic. Particularly the scene where he first comes in contact with Hideyoshi (the late Shintaro Katsu) is astonishing.


6. Sanadamaru

First aired: 2016
Starring: Masato Sakai (as Sanada Nobushige)

This is a series that depicts the life of Sanada Nobushige, more commonly known as Sanada Yukimura. Sanadamaru is actually the current series on air. Places that are associated with Sanada Yukimura, such as Ueda of Nagano Prefecture, are sure to be bustling and painted in red – the Sanada trademark color.


Taiga drama- a type of TV drama series that have a whole different appeal than the standard Japanese drama series; history lessons are made simple and enjoyable by watching it and not to mention the amazing cast for each series. They’re a must see.

Related Articles:
Best 4 Samurai Actors in Japanese Historical Drama Movies

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