In the 1960s and early 1970s a wave of Japanese programs were broadcast on Australian television. Among these were anime such as Astro Boy, Gigantor and Kimba the White Lion. For Australian viewers of these programs the Japanese connection was not obvious. However, in contrast and airing around the same time was the black-and-white series The Samurai. Clearly Japanese, it was a chambara-type period drama complete with samurai and ninja battling it out in the streets and countryside of Edo-period Japan and featuring backdrops of villages, shrines and castles. The Samurai was extremely popular, attracting a large audience of Australian viewers. However, the show also attracted controversy and criticism from the public. The show and the reaction it created provide an opportunity to explore and comment on aspects of Australian social history and Australia’s relationship with Japan. I argue that The Samurai was an early form of transnational popular culture, and it introduced a type of ‘oriental cool’ that spectacularly disrupted postwar Australia’s perception of Japan as a wartime enemy.