While researching gated communities ゲーテッドコミュニティ in Japan, I thought about the general concept of safety and security in Japan. With the exception of WW2 and Allied Occupation, Japan only faced significant foreign threats as a nation during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. In retrospect, it was this invasion that helped forge the concept of Japan as a nation.

In 1274, the Mongols entered Hakata Bay 博多湾, landing in what is now Fukuoka city 福岡市. This precipitated the Battle of Bun’ei 文永の役 during which the Japanese held back the Mongols, who retreated to Korea.

(a) Invasion route, from Korea, via Tsushima 対馬 and Iki 壱岐, and (b) the Battle of Bun’ei 文永の役 (1274) in Hakata Bay, Fukuoka:

Expecting another invasion, defensive structures, including a large stone wall 石塁 was constructed in 1276. The subsequent Battle of Kōan 弘安の役 in 1281, was also a success, and was “the first time samurai clans fought for the sake of Japan itself instead of for more narrowly defined clan interests.” The Battle of Kōan is depicted in the following scroll from 1293.

Battle of Kōan Koan Mongol invasion Japan scroll

Here are some maps related to the invasions, which were published in the Ghenko, the Mongol invasion of Japan, by Nakaba Yamada (1916) (full text available from the Internet Archive).

“An Ancient Map of Hakata”

An Ancient Map of Hakata

“The Stone-Wall by Arato Hill Near Fukuoka”

Mongol Invasion stone wall

 “Map showing remainders of the stone-walls in North Kiushu”

Mongol invasion Japan Kyushu stone wall map

“The Map of the Mongol Invasion of Japan, 1281 A.D.”

Mongol invasion Japan Asia map 1281

“The Region raided by Japanese Freebooters 1400-1600.”

Region raided by Japanese Freebooters 1400-1600

Mongol Invasion of Japan, from History of Nations, by K. Asakawa. (Full book available from Project Gutenberg):

“The Invasion by the Mongol Tartars”

Mongol Invasion of Japan - History of Nations K. Asakawa

Links:

  • Hakata Bay invasion map
  • 1274 Mongol invasion (Wikipedia) – “the long, thin Japanese swords got stuck or snapped off in the thick, boiled leather armor of the Mongols, causing blacksmiths to reevaluate their swords, which led to the invention and spread of famous Katana in the 13th and 14th century. The Katana was made shorter and thicker.”
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