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Encyclopedia > Mongol invasions of Japan
Mongol invasions of Japan

The samurai Suenaga facing Mongol arrows and bombs. Moko Shurai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), circa 1293.
Date 1274&1281
Location Japan
Result Japanese victory
Mongol Empire Japan
Kublai Khan Hōjō Tokimune
35,000 Mongol & Chinese soldiers and 18,000 Korean warriors 10,000
16,000 killed before landed minimal
Defensive wall at Hakata. Moko Shurai Ekotoba, (蒙古襲来絵詞) c.1293.
Defensive wall at Hakata. Moko Shurai Ekotoba, (蒙古襲来絵詞) c.1293.
Japanese attack ships. Moko Shurai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), circa 1293.
Japanese attack ships. Moko Shurai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), circa 1293.
Japanese samurai boarding Mongol ships in 1281.Moko Shurai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), circa 1293.
Japanese samurai boarding Mongol ships in 1281.Moko Shurai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), circa 1293.

The Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇 Genkō?) of 1274 and 1281 were major military operations undertaken by Kublai Khan to invade the Japanese islands after conquering Korea. Despite their ultimate failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance, setting a limit on Mongol expansion, and ranking as nation-defining events in Japanese history. They are referred to in many works of fiction, and are the earliest events for which the word kamikaze, or "divine wind", is widely used. In addition, with the exception of the Occupation at the end of World War II, these failed invasion attempts are the closest Japan has ever come to being invaded within the last 1500 years. Image File history File links Mooko-Suenaga. ... For other uses, see Samurai (disambiguation). ... Events May 7 - In France the Second Council of Lyons opens to consider the condition of the Holy Land and to agree to a union with the Byzantine church. ... For broader historical context, see 1280s and 13th century. ... Expansion of the Mongol Empire Historical map of the Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire (Mongolian: , Mongolyn Ezent Güren; 1206–1405) was the largest contiguous empire in history, covering over 33 million km²[1] (12 million square miles) at its zenith, with an estimated population of over 100 million people. ... For other uses, see Kublai Khan (disambiguation). ... Hōjō Tokimune (北条 時宗, 1251 - 1284) was the eighth shikken (officially regent, but de facto ruler of Japan) of the Kamakura shogunate (reigned 1268 - 84), best known for leading the Japanese forces against the invasion of the Mongols. ... Honorary guard of Mongolia. ... Image File history File links Mooko-HakataWall. ... Image File history File links Mooko-HakataWall. ... Hakata (博多区; -ku) is a ward in Fukuoka, Japan with a population of 176,585. ... Image File history File links Mooko-SamuraiShips. ... Image File history File links Mooko-SamuraiShips. ... Image File history File links Japanese samurai attacking a Mongol ship. ... Image File history File links Japanese samurai attacking a Mongol ship. ... For other uses, see Samurai (disambiguation). ... For broader historical context, see 1280s and 13th century. ... Events May 7 - In France the Second Council of Lyons opens to consider the condition of the Holy Land and to agree to a union with the Byzantine church. ... For broader historical context, see 1280s and 13th century. ... For other uses, see Kublai Khan (disambiguation). ... This article is about the Korean peninsula and civilization. ... This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei Pre-History/The Origin of History Jomon Period Main... Kamikaze (神風 kamikaze) is a Japanese word, usually translated as divine wind, beleived to be a gift from the gods. ... Capital Tokyo Language(s) Japanese Political structure Military occupation Military Governor  - 1945-1951 Douglas MacArthur  - 1951-1952 Matthew Ridgway Emperor  - 1926-1989 Hirohito Historical era Post-WWII  - Surrender of Japan August 15, 1945  - San Francisco Treaty April 28, 1952 At the end of the Second World War, Japan was occupied... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...



In 1231 the Mongols conquered Korea, and after nearly three decades of war, Korea signed a treaty in favor of the Yuan Dynasty and became a Mongolian dependency. The Mongolian Kublai Khan became Emperor of China in 1260 and established his capital at Beijing in 1264. Two years later, the Mongolians dispatched emissaries to Japan, commanding the Japanese to submit to Mongol rule, or face invasion. A second set of emissaries were sent in 1268, returning empty-handed, like their predecessors. Both sets of emissaries met with the Chinzei Bugyō, or Defense Commissioner for the West, who passed on the message to the Shogun in Kamakura, and the Emperor in Kyoto. A number of messages were sent after that, some through Korean emissaries, and some by Mongol ambassadors. The Kamakura shogunate (Bakufu) ordered all those who held fiefs in Kyūshū (the area closest to Korea, and thus most likely to be attacked) to return to their lands, and forces in Kyūshū moved west, further securing the most likely landing points. In addition, great prayer services were organized, and much government business was put off to deal with this crisis. // Events Ardengus becomes bishop of Florence. ... The Mongol invasions of Korea consisted of a series of campaigns by the Mongol Empire against Korea, then known as Koryo, from 1231 to 1259. ... Capital Dadu Language(s) Mongolian Chinese Government Monarchy Emperor  - 1260-1294 Kublai Khan  - 1333-1370 (Cont. ... For the volcano in Indonesia, see Emperor of China (volcano). ... The magnificent Cathedral of Chartres was dedicated in 1260. ... “Peking” redirects here. ... A contemporary monument to the Battle of Lewes, a crucial 1264 battle in the Second Barons War in England. ... Conradin (right) is executed by Charles I of Sicily, thus extinguishing the Hohenstaufen dynasty, in 1268. ... Chinzei Bugyō ), or Defense Commissioner of the West, was the name given to a post created in 1186 to oversee the defense of KyÅ«shÅ«. At the time, the primary mission of the Bugyō was to seek out and eliminate anyone who had supported Minamoto no Yoshitsune over his brother... Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate Shōgun )   is supreme general of the samurai,a military rank and historical title in Japan. ... Kamakuras location in Japan Crowds of visitors in Kamakura (Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine) Great Buddha at Kōtoku-in Kamakura (Japanese: 鎌倉市; -shi) is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan, about 50 km south-south-west of Tokyo (to which it is linked by the railway line to Yokosuka). ... An emperorrefers to Nick Herringshaw, a title, empress may only indicate the wife of an emperor (empress consort. ... Kyoto )   is a city in the central part of the island of HonshÅ«, Japan. ... The name Mongols (Mongolian: Mongol) specifies one or several ethnic groups. ... This wooden Kongorikishi statue was created during the Kamakura shogunate during 14th century Japan. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

First invasion

The Khan was willing to go to war as early as 1268, but found that the Mongol empire did not have the resources to provide him with a sufficient army or navy at that time. He sent a force to Korea in 1273, to act as the advance guard, but they were unable to support themselves off the Korean countryside, and were forced to return to China for supplies. Finally, in 1274, the Mongol fleet set out, with roughly 15,000 Mongol & Chinese soldiers and 8,000 Korean warriors, in 300 large vessels and 400-500 smaller craft. They captured the islands of Tsushima and Iki easily, and landed on November 19th in Hakata Bay, a short distance from Dazaifu, the ancient administrative capital of Kyūshū. The following day brought the Battle of Bun'ei (文永の役), also known as the "Battle of Hakata Bay". Tsushima Island (対馬 Tsushima) is an island in Japan, situated in the Tsushima Strait at 34°25N and 129°20E.[1] It is the largest island of the Nagasaki Prefecture. ... Iki Island (壱岐島) an island lying between the island of Kyushu and Tsushima in the Tsushima Strait. ... The city of Fukuoka encircling Hakata Bay. ... Categories: Cities in Fukuoka Prefecture | Japan-related stubs ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Battle of Bunei Conflict Mongol Invasions of Japan Date November 20, 1274 Place Hakata Bay, near present-day Fukuoka, Kyushu Result Invasion fails. ...

The Japanese were inexperienced in managing such a large force (all of Kyūshū had been mobilized), and the Mongols made significant initial progress. It had been approximately 50 years since the last major combat event in Japan (Go-Toba's adherents in 1221) leaving not a single Japanese general with adequate experience in moving large bodies of troops. In addition, the style of warfare that then was customary within feudal Japan involved man to man duels of sorts even on large battlefields. The Mongols possessed foreign weapons which included superior long range armaments ("proto-grenades"). The force at Hakata Bay needed time for reinforcements to arrive by which they would be able to overwhelm the Mongol Invaders. Around nightfall, a severe storm caused the Mongol ship captains to suggest that the land force re-board the sailing vessels in order to avoid the risk of being marooned on Japanese soil. By day break, only a few ships had not set to sea. Those that had, met their doom at natures hand. Different accounts offer casualty reports that suggest 200 Mongol ships were lost. It is thought that most of the Chinese and Korean soldiers within the fleet could not swim and therefore drowned. Grenade may refer to: The well-known hand grenade commonly used by soldiers. ... Cyclone Catarina, a rare South Atlantic tropical cyclone viewed from the International Space Station on March 26, 2004. ...

Second invasion

Starting in 1275, the Bakufu made increased efforts to defend against the second invasion which they thought was sure to come. In addition to better organizing the samurai of Kyūshū, they ordered the construction of forts and other defensive structures at many potential landing points, including Hakata.

In the spring of 1281, the Mongols' Chinese fleet was delayed by difficulties in provisioning and manning the large number of ships they had. Their Korean fleet set sail, suffered heavy losses at Tsushima, and turned back. In the summer, the combined Korean/Chinese fleet took Iki-shima, and moved on to Kyūshū, landing at a number of separate positions. In a number of individual skirmishes, known collectively as the Battle of Kōan (弘安の役), or the Second Battle of Hakata Bay, the Mongol forces were driven back to their ships. The Japanese army was again heavily outnumbered, but had fortified the coastal line and was easily able to repulse the auxiliaries that were launched against it. The now-famous kamikaze, a massive typhoon, assaulted the shores of Kyūshū for two days straight, and destroyed much of the Mongol fleet. For broader historical context, see 1280s and 13th century. ... Combatants Kamakura shogunate Mongols Commanders Hōjō Tokimune Mongol-Chinese Joint Command Strength 100,000? 142,000 men in 4400 ships? Casualties Unknown 120,000+ The battle of Kōan ), also known as the Second Battle of Hakata Bay, was the second attempt by the Mongols to invade Japan. ... Kamikaze (神風 kamikaze) is a Japanese word, usually translated as divine wind, beleived to be a gift from the gods. ...

Furthermore, it is now believed that the destruction of the Mongol fleet was greatly facilitated by two additional factors. Most of the invasion force was composed of hastily-acquired flat-bottomed Chinese riverboats. Such ships (unlike ocean-going ships, which have a curved keel to prevent capsizing) cannot deal with the high seas, let alone a massive typhoon. In addition, the true ocean-going ships in Kublai's fleet had been constructed by Korean forced-labourers, who might have deliberately introduced fatal flaws into many of the ships. Evidence of poorly constructed joints and weak nails exists. For other uses, see Sabotage (disambiguation). ...

Mongol invasions in modern culture

In the Mongol Invasion supplement for the PC game Shogun: Total War, the campaign included postulates an invasion which was not cut short by the typhoons. Shogun: Total War Categories: Computer and video game stubs | Real-time strategy computer games ...


Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Mongol invasions of Japan
  • Sansom, George, A History of Japan to 1334, Stanford University Press, 1958.
  • Conlan, Thomas, In Little Need of Divine Intervention, Cornell University Press, 2001 — includes a black-and-white reproduction of the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, as well as translations of relevant Kamakura-era documents and an essay by Prof. Conlan concerning the Invasions (in which he argues that the Japanese were better placed to withstand the Mongols than traditionally given credit for). The essay is available in pdf form at this link.
  • Mongol Invasion Scrolls Online - an interactive viewer detailing the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, developed by Professor Thomas Conlan.
  • Mongol Invasions of Japan - selection of photos by Louis Chor.
  • Mongol Invasions Painting Scrolls - more illustrations from the Moko Shurai Ekotoba.

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