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Three Kingdoms in Japan

The history of a Chinese masterpiece on Japanese shelves


Three Kingdoms in Japan

The history of a Chinese masterpiece on Japanese shelves


The story of the Three Kingdoms is no doubt one of the greatest of China’s literary classics. Some might be surprised to know that the story is almost as famous in Japan, where the Three Kingdoms has a firm grip in popular culture.

The most famous version of Three Kingdoms novel in Japan is Eiji Yoshikawa’s Sangokushi (三国志, the Japanese translation of both Records of and Romance of the Three Kingdoms).

His novel mainly features Liu Bei; as Yoshikawa himself states, he arranged the characters a bit to the Japanese taste without omitting the essence of the story.

Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s comic version of Three Kingdoms is a must-have item too. This 60-volume comic series has grown in popularity among those who want to read an easier but equally valid version of Yoshikawa’s opus, from which this comic was largely influenced.


Comic “Sangokushi”

In terms of video games, both Sangokushi and Sangoku-musou (三国無双/ Dynasty Warriors) from TECMO KOEI Holdings Co. have been extremely popular.

Sangoksushi is basically a strategy game where a player becomes a hero or a general of a kingdom and tries to unite the continent through battles and political decisions.


A snapshot from Sangokushi

In contrast, Sangoku-musou is an action game where a player operates famous heroes of the kingdoms to fight against enemies. In an odd way, these games can be a good introduction to the world of the Three Kingdoms.

In 2008, the exhibition “Great Romance of the Three Kingdoms” from the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum , ended up garnering over one million visitors. So, it might be a good idea to remember the next time you sit down with a volume from this famous series that it is beloved of people all over the world.


Still, this is from China!

 Image courtesy of FC2 Blog Post