Movie Reviews

Shgun Star Moeka Hoshi Reflects On Playing Fan-Favorite Character Usami Fuji In The Hit Series

Warning: SPOILERS for Shōgun season 1.


  • Screen Rant
    star Moeka Hoshi, who plays Fuji.
  • Shōgun
    TV show brought 1600 Japan to life with stunning detail & strong performances by a cast which includes Hiroyuki Sanada and Cosmo Jarvis.
  • Hoshi reflects on portraying Fuji and her experience working with Jarvis, highlighting unique communication on set.

Shōgun was one of the biggest hit shows of 2024, bringing James Clavell’s 1975 novel to life in a way never before seen. Brought to television by showrunners Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo, Shōgun realized 1600 Japan in stunning detail with the help of star and producer Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Lord Yoshii Toranaga in the series. The show also centered on John Blackthorne, an English sailor marooned in Japan, played by Cosmo Jarvis. Like many other characters in the series, Blackthorne’s journey often sees the character tossed around by plots and machinations he can only begin to understand.

Few Shōgun characters seem victim to their circumstance as much as Usami Fuji, who, in the first episode, lost both her husband and her child after her husband’s offense to their lord led to his ritual suicide. Still, Fuji remained stoic, even after she was assigned to be the consort to John Blackthorne, an outsider she viewed as a savage. Played by Moeka Hoshi, Fuji quickly became a fan-favorite character and seems to be one of the few in the story to receive a somewhat happy ending.


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Screen Rant interviewed Hoshi about her time portraying Fuji on Shōgun. She weighed in on key moments in Fuji’s relationship with Blackthorne and other characters, her initial discussions with the showrunners, and her thoughts on the return of her character in the recently announced Shōgun season 2. Plus, Hoshi discussed whether or not her character would have really used Blackthorne’s gun in a key moment. Note: This interview was conducted with the help of a translator, and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Hoshi Reflects On Playing Fuji & The “Freedom” Given To Her By Showrunner Justin Marks

Fuji with a peaceful expression in Shogun season 1 ep 10 (FINALE)
Image via Hulu/FX

Screen Rant: I read that you were the first person to reach out to Justin Marks about your character. What did you come to understand about Fuji in those first conversations?

Moeka Hoshi: I was a little bit worried about this being a period film. Would I have to really stick to the parameters down to the T? In my conversation with Justin, I learned I didn’t have to worry about that as much. In the story of Fuji is 19 years old, and I was given the freedom to explore who she is. She has come up in a really wealthy upbringing, but maybe she’s still a little mischievous at the same time. I had a freedom to explore that.

Fuji’s often so reserved, but you do such a good job of showing us what she’s thinking without saying anything. How is it as an actor to convey so much emotion while sometimes doing as little as possible?

Moeka Hoshi: As far as being able to convey what Fuji’s thinking, it’s not something conscious. People can read into it however they want and understand that moment however they want. Personally, I would say as an actor, I lack the technical skills. For example, a camera is set a certain way, so I will angle my body or my face a certain way—I feel like I still need to learn a lot about that. As an actor, right now, my role is to be Fuji as much as possible and to portray her in the most honest way possible. The camera captures that for me, and then everyone else watches it and perceives it. So, it’s not a conscious thing that I’m doing.

The Limited Communication Between Fuji & Blackthorne Was Echoed By The Actors Themselves

Fuji smiles at Blackthorne in Shogun season 1 ep 10 (FINALE)
Image via Hulu/FX

Fuji spends so much time with Blackthorne, and he doesn’t understand the people around him during the show. I imagine that’s kind of what it was like for Cosmo Jarvis on set too. What was it like working with him, both in scenes and in spending time together?

Moeka Hoshi: Working with Cosmo was an unforgettable experience for me. We didn’t understand each other’s lines, but we could communicate just by looking in each other’s eyes. I felt a lot of emotions from him. He’s kind of shy, so when we were on set, we were really only communicating through the dialogue of the script. It was a very unique and wonderful experience of communicating through our eyes.

He doesn’t know Japanese. I know English, but we’re portraying people who don’t understand each other. Cosmo, probably, was unsure about how much of his English I was understanding, too. And it could also be part of the role, but Cosmo is fundamentally shy.

Also, we were shooting Shōgun during COVID, so isolation protocols were in place. Although our interactions were mostly on set when we were working as actors, I think it was such an important and rare experience to be able to have such a deep connection just through the dialogue of the script. That’s something I really, really treasure as an actor.

Fuji, at first, did not like Blackthorne at all. Was there a moment where you think she developed a respect for him, or that was the turning point in the relationship?

Moeka Hoshi: I think that respect was gradual. It wasn’t one particular moment. I think what was fortunate for Fuji’s personality was that she’s a flexible person. She isn’t like, perhaps, some of the ladies in the world of Shōgun who say, “Blackthorn is a savage. That’s the end of the story.”

Because Blackthorne, Mariko, and Fuji are all under the same roof at one point, and Fuji sees Mariko’s interaction with Blackthorn—and because she trusts Mariko—that extends gradually to Blackthorne as well. She’s like, “Oh, he’s not as bad of a person as I thought he was.” So, it was a very gradual process for her.

Hoshi Reflects On Ad-Libbing & Her Favorite Series Moments

Fuji and Blackthorne on a boat in Shogun

Do you have a favorite moment you got to play out as Fuji?

Moeka Hoshi: For me, personally, as an actor, I loved this scene in episode 10 when Fuji tells Blackthorne, “I’m going to nun.” There are a couple things that were wonderful about that scene. The first is that, by that time, Blackthorne is using Japanese phrases, so he’d started to bridge the gap.

Also, at that point in filming, I felt a little bit looser. I didn’t have to stay within the sandbox by this point. There’s a piece of dialogue when he says, “You’re going to be a nun,” and she says, “Yes.” “Yes,” was actually an ad-lib. It was not in the script. At first, I wasn’t sure if Fred [E.O. Toye], our director, liked it. We did a second take, and I didn’t do the ad-lib, so he came over, like, “Hey, can you leave that in? I liked it a lot.” I haven’t really shared this with a lot of people, but in episode 10, there are a lot of things that happened, and they were all such precious moments for me.

“In Justin And Rachel I Trust”: Hoshi Weighs In On Fuji’s Season 2 Return

Lord Toranaga stops Blackthorne from comitting seppuku in Shogun episode 10

Shōgun is coming back for more seasons. I know we probably want Fuji to have a nice, peaceful life as a nun, but is there anything you’d like to see happen with her in those seasons? Would you like her to come back?

Moeka Hoshi: I have no idea what the plan is, but in Justin and Rachel I trust, and I believe they will come up with another exciting season. Honestly, it’s less about myself and Fuji. Just as another fellow fan of Shōgun, I’m looking forward to what comes out for season 2 and season 3.

Hoshi Reflects On How Shōgun Affected Her View On Modern-Day Japan

Lady Ochiba and her son sit, gazing at the landscape from a room, silhouetted against the light in Shogun season 1 ep 10 (FINALE)
Image via Hulu/FX

The U.S. is not an old country, but when I watch something that takes place in its past, I think a little differently about the present. Did spending all this time in 1600s Japan for Shōgun affect your perspective on where you live?

Moeka Hoshi: Yeah. I think what I learned, or was able to see, is that the present is a continuation of the past. With Japanese culture, I can see more deeply where our culture really comes from, what things have stuck, and what things have not. For example, higher ranking, lower ranking—that societal hierarchy.

Also, Tokyo has a huge concentration of people, and when I thought about it, I realized that’s actually Ieyasu’s fault [Note: Hiroyuki Sanada’s Yoshii Toranaga is based on real-life shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu] back in the Edo period, because he decided to do that. There are so many people in Tokyo now, so I was kind of realizing it’s his fault.

Overall, I’m hoping that as Japanese people go into the future, we’ll keep the good things and strive towards a healthier culture that just gets better and better.

Would Fuji Really Have Shot Omi In Shōgun Episode 4?

Fuji holding a gun on Omi in Shogun

I think one of everyone’s favorite moments from the series is when Fuji pulls Blackthorne’s gun on Omi. It’s so surprising. Do you think she actually would have shot him?

Moeka Hoshi: I maybe have not thought about that… I think she would’ve shot him. Considering the times, and the fact that people are already kind of getting killed left and right anyway. In that kind of environment, I think I would’ve shot him. Also, we were higher ranking than him, so I think that she would’ve shot Omi.

About Shōgun

A composite image of Toranaga looking dour imposed over an image of Toranaga riding a horse in Shogun
Custom Image by Dalton Norman

FX’s Shōgun, an original adaptation of James Clavell’s bestselling novel, is set in Japan in the year 1600 at the dawn of a century-defining civil war. Producer Hiroyuki Sanada stars as “Lord Yoshii Toranaga” who is fighting for his life as his enemies on the Council of Regents unite against him.

Check our our other Shōgun interviews here:

All episodes of


season 1 are streaming now on Hulu and Disney+.

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