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Shōgun's Tokuma Nishioka Says He Cried for 'About 3 Hours' Filming That Shocking Episode 8 Scene

'He wasn't selfish. He was thinking about all of Japan'

Kat Moon
Tokuma Nishioka, Shōgun

Tokuma Nishioka, Shōgun


[The following contains spoilers for Shōgun Episode 8. Read at your own risk!]

Death is inevitable in FX's Shōgun. In the words of Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai): "We live and we die. We control nothing beyond that." But that does not make any character's demise — particularly ones that appear to be avoidable — any easier to bear. And Episode 8 deals the heaviest blow yet. In "Abyss of Life," we say goodbye to general Toda Hiromatsu (Tokuma Nishioka), second in command to Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada).

As Toranaga's men refuse to join him in surrendering to Lord Ishido (Takehiro Hira) and the Council of Regents, Hiromatsu makes a shocking declaration. "Lord, if you will not change your mind, then I will commit seppuku at once," Toranaga's most trusted advisor says. Moments later, it happens. Toranaga does not concede to Hiromatsu's wishes to fight the Council for the sake of his clan, as the bushō believes the peace of Japan to be more important. And so Hiromatsu, in front of Toranaga and a handful of his top generals, takes his life.

"Definitely, I cried," Nishioka told TV Guide via a translator. For "about three hours," he was crying, in part because his performance required it and in part because he was so moved by the scene. But the actor shared why Hiromatsu's death was necessary. Even though most of the men in the room did not know Toranaga had a plan, Hiromatsu was convinced otherwise. "We need to deceive Ishido in some way, and make him [believe] that it was end of Toranaga," Nishioka said. "This is to die for the master, to show that loyalty."

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Nishioka expanded on his character's relationship with Toranaga. "We've been childhood friends, even though I'm a little older," the actor said. "I've been just thinking about how I could make him become shōgun — all my life." According to Nishioka, Hiromatsu believed Toranaga must become shōgun. "He wasn't selfish. He was thinking about all of Japan, not only himself," Nishioka said. "He wanted to make [a] Japan with no wars, no fighting."

Sanada, who plays Toranaga and also serves as executive producer, also discussed what it was like to film the scene. "Tokuma Nishioka, we worked together over 30 years, so we had the chemistry showing our long friendship to the audience without the words," Sanada told TV Guide. In 1990, both actors starred in the Japanese film Byôin e ikô. And that's not the only time the two actors appeared in the same title before Shōgun. In 1991, they starred in the Japanese TV movie Zoku Kamata kôshinkyoku: Ginchan ga iku. 

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The two actors' history could be part of the reason why the final moments between Hiromatsu and Toranaga felt so poignant. "That scene, we [are] looking [at] each other, but we are talking through the eyes," Sanada said. "They both know what is important — Hiromatsu understood."

Sanada also discussed the words Toranaga said at the end of Episode 8, following the deaths of his dear friend and, previously, his son Nagakado (Yuki Kura). "I will not waste it," Toranaga said at Nagakado's grave. "Hiromatsu and you, both. I will not waste it." 

Sanada said this scene did not initially have Toranaga speaking. "But I wanted to tell the audience what he's thinking about all [the] deaths," Sanada said. "So I asked [co-showrunner] Justin [Marks], 'Can I say this?' And then he agreed." With these words, more of Toranaga's intentions are revealed. "He'd never waste any life, any death — holding them all to create a peaceful world," Sanada said.

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New episodes of Shōgun air Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX and stream the same day on Hulu.