What Is Natto In Shogun? Meaning of Food In Show Explained

By Klein Felt Posted:
Shogun Natto Food

The latest episode of FX's Shogun has some wondering what exactly Natto is as the series introduced the traditional Japanese food to Western audiences. 

The sword-wielding series from Top Gun: Maverick writer Justin Marks has transported viewers back to 16th-century Japan. The series follows the Japanese grappling with the arrival of European settlers amidst internal political struggles. 

It is a Game of Thrones-style epic that has felt authentic all the way through, not babying Western audiences by over-explaining the ins and outs of Japanese culture, immersing fans in a culture they may not be too familiar with. 

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What Is Natto From Shogun Episode 4?

Shogun Natto Episode 4

Fans keeping up with FX's Shogun series may have come across a curious food they were unaccustomed to in Natto. 

As seen in the closing moments of Episode 4, the Japanese dish has some viewers scratching their heads just like Cosmo Jarvis's John Blackthorne was within the series. 

Blackthorne - an English pilot who has become ingratiated with the powerful Lord Yoshii Toranaga - was encouraged to eat some Natto during the latest episode's final scene. 

While he was a little hesitant, given its signature sticky look and feel, Blackthorne eventually gives it a try and comes to enjoy it. 

From a story perspective, this was yet another example of Blackthorne embracing Japanese culture in the company of the lords and ladies who have taken a liking to the gaijin (foreigner). 

Natto Shogun Stretch

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from whole soybeans that have been fermented and become incredibly sticky. 

It is often served as a breakfast food in Japan, coming on rice and topped with various toppings like karashi mustard, soy, or tare sauce. 

The dish is best known for its sticky appearance, intense taste, and distinct smell. 

While offputting to some Western palettes, the food has a long history in Japan dating as far back as 300 BC. However, its exact origins remain in question.

The most common belief is that Natto was brought over by the Chinese during the Yayoi period (300 BC - 300 AD), but did not become commonplace until the Edo period (1603-1867).

Since then, the meal has become a staple of Japanese cuisine (especially in eastern regions like Kanto, Tokohu, and Hokkaido). Companies now mass-produce the dish, and it is readily available at grocery stores, restaurants, and the country's plethora of konbini (Japanese convenience stores).  

Shogun is now streaming on Hulu.

Read more about FX's Shogun series:

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

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

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

Shogun Stars Anna Sawai & Cosmo Jarvis Talk On-Screen Relationship & Favorite Moments (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.