Gai-Jin (novel)

Gai-Jin (novel)

Gai-Jin (Japanese, "Foreigner") is a 1993 novel by James Clavell, chronologically the third book in his Asian Saga, although it was the last to be published. Taking place about 20 years after the events of Tai-Pan, it chronicles the adventures of Malcolm Struan, the son of Culum and Tess Struan, in Japan. The story goes into depth on the political situation in Japan and the hostility Westerners faced in Japan, and is loosely based on the Namamugi Incident and the subsequent Anglo-Satsuma War.

Plot summary

The story opens with a fictional rendition of the Namamugi Incident, on September 14, 1862. Phillip Tyrer, John Canterbury, Angelique Richaud, and Malcolm Struan, are riding when they are attacked by Shorin Anato and Ori Ryoma, both Satsuma samurai and ronin shishi in the sonnō jōi movement, cells of revolutionary xenophobic idealists. Canterbury is gruesomely killed, Malcolm seriously wounded, and Tyrer receives a minor arm injury; only Angelique escapes unharmed to get help. Tyrer and Malcolm make their way back to Yokohama later that day, where Dr. Babcott operates on Malcolm. Meanwhile, at a village inn, Sanjiro, the daimyo of Satsuma, meets with Katsumata, one of his advisors, and receives Ori and Shorin.

Historical basis

As with Clavell's other novels, the setting and many characters are based on actual events, which set the stage for the novel.

Struan and Company (the "Noble House" trading company of the novel) is based on Jardine Matheson Holdings, a massive Scottish trading company that continues to this day as an Asia-based trading company. Malcolm Struan was loosely based on the real-life Jardine taipan William Keswick. Jamie McFay is based on Thomas Blake Glover. Edward Gornt was loosely based on John Samuel Swire, founder of John Swire & Sons Limited and Swire Pacific.

The interpreter Phillip Tyrer may be loosely based upon Ernest Mason Satow.

Gai-Jin has many Japanese characters based on historical figures. Lord Toranaga Yoshi is based on Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Misamoto, his interpreter, is loosely based on John Manjiro. Lady Yazu represents Princess Chikako, the Princess Kazu. Lord Anjo is Andō Nobumasa (1820-1871). Nobusada Toranaga is Tokugawa Iemochi. Anachronistically, Lord Sanjiro is based on Shimazu Nariakira, although the Satsuma daimyo of the period was Shimazu Tadayoshi the second, as Nariakira died in 1858. Hiraga is Itō Hirobumi, and his traveling companion to England is Inoue Kaoru. Katsumata, anachronistically, is based on Yoshida Shoin, though the real-life Yoshida had been executed in 1859, three years prior to the depicted events in this book.

Principal characters

  • Malcolm Struan - grandson of Dirk Struan, eldest son of Culum Struan and heir and soon to be tai-pan of the Noble House
  • Jamie McFay - manager of Struan's in Japan
  • Dr. Ronald Hoag - Struan family physician
  • Sir William Aylesbury, KCB - British Chief Minister to the Japans, head of legation
  • Dr. George Babcott - British Deputy Minister and surgeon
  • Phillip Tyrer - diplomat and apprentice Japanese interpreter
  • Norbert Greyforth - head of Brock and Sons in Japan
  • Lieutenant John Marlowe - captain of the HMS Pearl, aide-de-camp to Admiral Ketterer
  • Edward Gornt - gentleman Shanghai trader from Virginia, illegitimate son of Morgan Brock through Kristian Gornt. It is through Gornt that Brock's descendants continued to flourish in Asia. His great-grandson Quillan Gornt was a major character in Noble House.
  • Henri Bonaparte Seratard - French Minister
  • André Édouard Poncin, French spy, ostensibly a trader
  • Count Alexi Zergeyev - Russian Minister
  • Angelique Richaud - beloved of Malcolm Struan, ward of the French Minister
  • Lord Toranaga Yoshi - the Guardian of the Heir
  • Misamoto - Lord Yoshi's interpreter
  • Hiraga - also known as Ukiya, Nakama and Otami, leader of the Choshu shishi
  • Shogun Nobusada Toranaga - heir to the title of Shogun and to the Toranaga family; also mentioned in Noble House and Whirlwind
  • Lady Yazu, wife of Nobusada, stepsister of Emperor Komei
  • Lord Nori Anjo - daimyo of Kii and Mikawa, head of the Council of Elders
  • Lord Sanjiro - daimyo of Satsuma
  • Katsumata - advisor of Sanjiro and secret head of the shishi
  • Lord Ogama - daimyo of Choshu
  • Raiko - mama-san of Yokohama's House of the Three Carp
  • Ori Ryoma - shishi, leader of a Satsuma cell, obsessed with Angelique
  • Sumomo - shishi, Hiraga's fiancée

Secondary characters

  • Culum Struan - son of Dirk Struan, second tai-pan, father of Malcolm
  • Tess (Hag) Struan - de facto tai-pan of the Noble House
  • Gordon Chen - Compradore of the Noble House, illegitimate son of Dirk Struan
  • Admiral Charles Ketterer - commander of the British fleet
  • Captain Settry Pallidar - captain of the Dragoons
  • Dmitri Syborodin - American trader of Cossack descent
  • Heatherly Skye - the only solicitor in Japan
  • John Canterbury
  • Sir Morgan Brock
  • General Thomas Ogilvy
  • Isiah Adamson - American Minister
  • von Heimrich - Prussian Minister

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