Shogun: What Are Goshawks? Meaning In the Show, Explained

By Klein Felt Posted:
Shogun Goshawk

Shogun Episode 8 introduced audiences to the idea of goshawks, and many were left wondering about the exact meaning of the word. 

Following the rise of Japan's first White Samurai, Shogun has taken fans back to feudal Japan in its first eight episodes. 

The FX series has not held the audience's hand. It tells an authentically Japanese 18th-century story featuring plenty of brutality, political strife, and customs/parlance that may not be familiar to Western audiences. 

[ Full Cast of Shogun 2024 Series - Every Main Character & Actor In FX Show (Photos) ]

What Does Goshawks Mean in Shogun?

Hiroyuki Sanada's Yoshii Toranaga in Shogun

In Episode 8 of Shogun ("The Abyss of Life"), Hiroyuki Sanada's Yoshii Toranaga used the word goshawks, leaving large swaths of the audience wondering about the meaning of his turn of phrase. 

This is just the latest term seen in the series that has confused viewers.

As Lord Toranaga gives Anna Sawai's Lady Mariko a peak behind his political curtain, he refers to Cosmo Jarvis' John Blackthorne and Tadanobu Asano's Kashigi Yabushige as goshawks.

A goshawk is a large-winged bird of prey found in Central Europe and Eastern Asia. It is a common bird used in falconry because it is easy to control and widely seen as predictable.

So, when Toranaga uses the word to describe both Blackthorne and Yabushige, he is likely comparing the bird's easy-to-control nature to the two men's, seeing them only as pawns to play or throw at opponents. 

This seems to be a sign of disrespect from the former Japanese lord. He does not view this pair of military co-conspirators as his equals but instead likes to keep them around as they can be easily manipulated into doing his bidding. 

Toranaga is playing chess while the rest of the cast is playing checkers. As he leads on in this Goshawks speech, he only reveals information to each of his coconspirators what they need to know as they need to know it. 

While, because of this strategy, he may not be lying, he is pulling the strings and setting his 'goshawks' upon his prey without them even knowing they are being cleverly manipulated. 

It remains to be seen if this plan will work. But the series is heading toward an inflection point as Toranaga sets up his dominoes to take control of Japan's entire political system. 

Shogun is now streaming on Hulu, with new episodes coming to FX every Tuesday at 10 p.m. 

Read more about FX's Shogun series:

Shogun: What Is Crimson Sky? Meaning In the Show, Explained

Will Shogun Season 2 Happen? Producers Address FX Series' Potential Future (Exclusive)

Shogun: Why Samurai Shave Their Heads, Explained

Shogun 2024 FX TV Series Vs. Book Differences Explained by Producer (Exclusive)

- In This Article: Shogun
Release Date
February 27, 2024
Cable TV
Anna Sawai
Cosmo Jarvis
Hiroyuki Sanada
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.