Anna Sawai as Lady Mariko in a scene from 'Shogun.' She is a Japanese woman with long, black hair wearing an ornate floral robe from Feudal Japan. Other Japanese women stand behind her and flanking her.
(FX)

‘Shogun’s Anna Sawai Is Living Every Crafter’s Dream

Shogun star Anna Sawai recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and showed off a secret talent: fiber arts.

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In Shogun, Sawai plays Lady Mariko, vassal to Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) and translator for John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis). Although she’s steadfast in her duty to Toranaga, Mariko is quietly tortured by the death of her family and her abusive marriage. She puts up a front to hide her pain, but grows close to Blackthorne.

Sawai, on the other hand, is a cheerful knitter! On The Late Show, she told Colbert how she spent time on set.

“We were on set for a very long time, and I had to memorize so many lines,” Sawai explained when Colbert held up a photo of a beautiful knitted shawl. “In the final edit, they really do it seamlessly. Mariko’s voice is kind of fading into the background as she translates, so it’s very beautiful, but on set, I was translating every single line that the two characters were speaking.”

The scene Sawai is referring to happens early in the series, when Blackthorne and Toranaga begin their alliance. Mariko translates as the two get to know each other. “And so I took up knitting,” Sawai said. “I’d never done it before!”

Sawai explained that she began with a form of beginner’s knitting called finger knitting, in which you use your fingers as the needles. Gradually, she progressed into other fiber arts, like crochet.

But that wasn’t even the best part. Near the end of the interview, Sawai presented Colbert with a little gift: a hand-knit case for his glasses that she made on the way to New York to appear on the show.

As a fellow knitter and crafter, I can safely say that that eyeglass case isn’t the work of an amateur. Look at that ribbed chevron pattern! The button! Sawai probably had to learn how to sew seams to make that! She may have only been knitting for a couple of years at this point, but she’s got some serious skills.

Anna Sawai is truly living the dream. Not only is she a famous actor, but she gets to knit on the job and show off her crafting on national television! Anna, I tip my hat to you. The hat is a Fair Isle tam made with Malabrigo yarn. If you know, you know.

(featured image: FX / Hulu)


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>