The Mongol Invasion


Major military efforts were taken by Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty in 1274 and 1281 to conquer Japan after the submission of Korea. Ultimately a failure, the invasion attempts are of historical importance because they set a limit on Mongol expansion and rank as nation defining events in the history of Japan.

The invasions are referred to in many works of fiction and are the earliest events for which the word “Kamikaze” (Divine Wind) is widely used, originating in reference to the typhoons faced by the Yuan fleets.

The invasions were one of the earliest cases of gunpowder warfare outside of China. One of the most notable technological innovations during the invasions was the use of explosive, hand thrown bombs.

The main invasion of Japan started at Hakata Bay. All available accounts describe the style of the Invasion forces fighting, leaving the Japanese defenders confused. The unfamiliar tactics in which the Mongol, Chinese and Korean soldiers advanced on foot in large and comparatively dense groups protected by shields, controlled by drums and the accompaniment of much noise, required a major reconsideration of traditional Japanese fighting techniques.

The tradition of selecting a worthy opponent for one’s arrow, needed a major re-think. In a Japanese battle it was the practice to seek out a worthy opponent and fight to the death, but in this battle the Mongols “attacked all together with great vigor.”