In the run up to Logan, I’m going to be doing Wolverine Week. This will be a week of Wolverine related content, ranging from the people around him, to understanding who he is as a character. All of this will lead up to my review of Logan when it comes out in the UK on March 1st. To kick off Wolverine Week I’m going to be focusing on his relationship with the country of Japan. The land of the Rising Sun has been a home and battleground to Wolverine over the years, and here is what it means to him.
The essence of Wolverine’s character is that he’s a failed samurai, looking for his place in the world. He first came to Japan in the years before WW2 to train in eastern philosophies and calm his bestial nature. He studied under Ogun, one of the world’s greatest martial artists, and learned a variety of techniques. Wolverine learned how to wield Katanas and fell in love with the country. He was taken prisoner in Japan during WW2 and later escaped.
Logan returned to Japan after the war to try and find peace. Ogun suggested he travel to Jasmine Falls and train with Bando Suboro. Logan met a woman named Itsu and married her. They settled down at Jasmine Falls and Itsu became pregnant with their son, Daken. Itsu was killed by The Winter Soldier and Wolverine left in disgrace, not knowing his son had been cut from Itsu’s womb and raised to be a killer. Wolverine travelled to the mountain home of Muramasa and had a sword made out of his anger. It became one of the few things that could kill him.
Years later, Logan was drawn back to Japan when he followed a young Kitty Pryde to make sure she was safe. Kitty fell into Ogun’s clutches and Wolverine was forced to battle his former sensai. He killed Ogun and rescued Kitty. His relationship with Kitty became one of his strongest familial bonds.
Wolverine’s greatest adventure in Japan was when he fell in love with Mariko Yashida, heir to the Yashida Clan. Her father, Lord Shingen married Mariko off to the abusive Noburu-Hedeki. Wolverine battled through hundreds of ninjas from The Hand and exposed Shingen as a criminal with the help of a woman called Yukio. Wolverine resumed their relationship until she was poisoned on the orders of a rival called Matsu’o Tsurayaba. Mariko asked Wolverine to kill her to avoid a painful death and preserve her honour. Every year, Wolverine avenges her death by slicing off pieces of Matsu’o’s body.
Another well known story is when Logan went to Japan to visit his adoptive daughter Amiko. He found Clan Yashida was in the control of The Silver Samurai, Kenuichio Harada. Logan found himself in the centre of a war between rival factions and Amiko and Yukio were kidnapped. He discovered the source of the war was from a woman called Kia of the Kaishek family. Wolverine defeated her and rescued Yukio and Amiko.
Japan represents honour and peace to Wolverine. It’s a place where he can calm his tortured soul. It’s a land of his greatest joys and greatest tragedies. It’s become so ingrained into his back story that I’m surprised it took so long for a film to be made out of it with The Wolverine. Japan will continue to play a major part in future Wolverine stories and below are some of the best to read.