The two attempts by Khubilai Khan, the Mongol Emperor of China, to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281 represent unique events in the history of both countries. It pitted the samurai of Japan against the fierce warriors of the steppes who had conquered half the known world.
The Mongol conquest of Korea left them with a considerable quantity of maritime resources, which enabled them to think seriously for the first time about crossing the Tsushima strait between Korea and Japan with an army of invasion. The first invasion, which began with savage raiding on Tsushima and Iki, made landfall at Hakata Bay and forced the samurai defenders back inland. Luckily for the Japanese defenders, a storm scattered the Mongol invasion fleet, leading them to abandon this attempt.
The Japanese made defensive preparation in the intervening years, and the Mongols increased their fleet and army. The second invasion involved one of the largest seaborne expeditions in world history up to that time. This attempt was aimed at the same landing site, Hakata Bay, and met stiffer opposition from the new defences and the aggressive Japanese defenders. Forced by a series of major Japanese raids to stay in their ships at anchor, the Mongol fleet was obliterated by a typhoon - the kamikaze (divine wind) - for the loss of as many as 90 per cent of the invaders. Although further preparations were made for an assault by the Mongols at the end of the 13ht and beginning of the 14th centuries, this proved to be the last realistic threat of an invasion of the home islands till 1945.
Review“Stephen Turnbull does a superlative job of telling the story of these invasions. There is so much myth involved and so little historical record of these events that untwisting myth from reality is quite difficult. Yet, it is done with clarity, and Stephen tells a good story. This is all superbly illustrated by Richard Hook and enhanced by period artwork and photos of the few artefacts and images of the locales in which the battles were fought. It makes for superb reading of a pivotal event in Japanese and world history. It is a book I very much enjoyed and highly recommended to you.” - Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness, modelingmadness.com (February 2010)
About the AuthorStephen Turnbull took his first degree at Cambridge University and received a PhD from Leeds University for his work on Japanese religious history. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the Far East and also runs a well-used picture library. His work has been recognised by the awarding of the Canon Prize of the British Association for Japanese Studies and a Japan Festival Literary Award. He currently divides his time between lecturing in Japanese Religion at the University of Leeds and writing.
Richard Hook was born in 1938 and trained at Reigate College of Art. After national service with 1st Bn, Queen's Royal Regiment, he became art editor of the much-praised magazine Finding Out during the 1960s. He has worked as a freelance illustrator ever since, earning an international reputation particularly for his deep knowledge of Native American material culture; and has illustrated more than 50 Osprey titles. Richard is married and lives in Sussex; his three children Adam, Jason, and Christa are all professionally active in various artistic disciplines.