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What POD Would I Need to Make the European “Flag Samurais” a Reality?


Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
"This could be the starting point, if we add in the Japanese isolationism. What if the plague wiped out 99.9% of the population of Europe and Asia, but it didn't touch Japan because no one went there from mainland Asia. Then you'd have a depopulated continent. And if at some point the Japanese venture out, they could simply colonise the whole thing."

Just here to say that this sounds like an excellent POD for a story. If not this setting, someone else could use it. I'm tempted to use it myself for a European power. Perhaps Iceland shall colonise Eurasia, developing strange, new Icelandic-derived cultures across the breadth and width of the old world.... Thanks for the idea! Carry on.
What it would take for one culture to adopt the fashions of another is familiarity with the other culture and admiration for it. Historically, long distance travel wasn't easy. Most people never did it. If you lived in Europe, you might have heard of places like India, China, or Japan, but unless you were someone like Marco Polo, you never saw them. The reverse was also true.

So even if, in your alternate timeline, Western Europeans knew of the Japanese, they wouldn't have personally known how the Japanese dressed. Unless they saw visiting dignitaries from Japan dressed in Japanese styles, or something like that. Put that in your alternate timeline, and you have a good route for the fashions to be adopted.

And for the Europeans to adopt Japanese fashions, they would have to consider the Japanese worthy of emulating. If they considered the Japanese barbarians, that wouldn't happen. If they considered the Japanese wonderfully civilized, superior to themselves, then they'd want to copy what the Japanese did. Similar to how French fashions were the thing among American women with upper class aspirations in the nineteenth century.


Imagine if the ancient Chinese had tried to invade Japan, only to be sent packing, maybe the Japanese retaliated and invaded mainland China and in one stroke killed the emperor and took over the rule of China... That could have greatly influenced the Chinese and Mongolians; who adopted a pseudo-Japanese culture, and then later took over parts of Europe (or most of it) much like Ghenghis Khan attempted to do. Imagine if a warlord like Ghenghis Khan had had mounted Samurai on top of their famed horse archers (or perhaps a terrifying mash-up of the two since the samurai were credible horse archers themselves.)

Under this timeline, I don't think it would be too far-fetched that Europeans could have had the samurai influence, even if later they threw off the yoke of Japanese rule. It would still have left an indelible mark on them as a people, could have influenced how technology and culture evolved over the centuries.