Genko Borui

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A stone defense wall (Genkō Bōrui) at Nishijin, near Seinan University

The Genkō Bōrui (元寇防塁 Genkō Bōrui?) was a defensive stone wall, 20 kilometres (12 mi) long, constructed along Hakata Bay in Japan in preparation for an attack by Mongol forces of the Yuan Dynasty after the first attack of 1274.

The second attack of 1281 was thwarted by a typhoon, or kamikaze, and the Mongols were forced to withdraw.[1] In the Edo era, some of the stones were reused for the construction of Fukuoka Castle, though Genkō Bōrui has remained intact at several points along the Hakata Bay. It was originally called "Ishitsuiji" (石築地?). It was designated a national historic site on March 30, 1931.

History[edit]

The Mongol invasions Genkō (元寇?) of Japan in 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer Japan. After the failure of the first invasion, the Kamakura shogunate (Bakufu) initiated a series of projects in 1275 to prepare for the next invasion, which they felt was imminent.

In addition to improving the organization of the samurai of Kyushu, they ordered the construction of a large stone wall[2] and other defensive structures at many potential landing points, including Hakata Bay. A defensive wall was planned and a tax was levied on the samurai, temples, and shrines, of 3.3 centimetres (1.3 in) of construction stone per rice field equivalent to one koku of rice.[3] Construction began in March 1276. The planned date of completion for most of the wall was August of the same year, but the deadline differed depending on the strategic importance of given locations. Construction of the defense wall was made by various Kyushu provinces. These provinces continued maintenance on the wall until the early part of the Muromachi period, and by the latter half of the 14th century it had fallen into disrepair.[4]

A part of Genkō Bōrui was completed before the second invasion and prevented the enemy from landing immediately. The invaders were forced to anchor their ships at Shikanoshima Island. The battles occurred over several months between several thousand evenly-matched combatants. Takezaki Suenaga of Higo province joined the battles and had artists draw scrolls concerning the Battle of Kōan. This second attack of 1281 was finally thwarted by a typhoon, or kamikaze, and the Mongols were forced to withdraw.[5]

Even later, the defense system was continued, and remained intact until 1332. In the Edo period, most of the stones were used for the construction of Fukuoka Castle. It was designated a national historic site on March 30, 1931.[6]

A scroll showing a small portion of the Genkō Bōrui at Ikino Matsubara[7]

Taxation and transformation[edit]

At first, battle-ready soldiers were excluded from taxation, but this policy was soon discontinued and each province in Kyushu was taxed. The tax was usually one sun (3.3 cm) of the wall's length per 1 tan of rice field; the weapons were one shield, one flag and 20 arrows per 1 jo (3.314 yards) of stone wall. The tax was in the form of men who constructed the wall and in the form of the items (weapons), but later the tax was paid in money; 114 mon per one cho of rice field was typical. The taxation continued to the early part of the Muromachi Bakufu.[6]

Structure[edit]

The Genkō Bōrui was typically 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) high and 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) wide. The western end was in Imazu, Nishiku, Fukuoka and the eastern end in Kashii, Higashiku, Fukuoka, and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) long. It was packed with small stones inside, the seaside steep and the landside less steep. Shields and flags were placed on the Genko Borui and stakes were planted in the sea at irregular intervals.

Etymology[edit]

In articles of the Fukuoka Nichi Nichi Shimbun ("Fukuoka Daily Newspaper") between June 12, 1913 and June 29, 1913, Heijiro Nakayama first used the words Genkō Bōrui to mean "Mongolian Invasion defense structure"[8] and he contrasted the Genkō Bōrui from conventional stone defense by its high elevation and its design as a sand dike covered with stones; a structure which would effectively block an invasion attempt.[9]

Archaeological excavations[edit]

The Genkō Bōrui was excavated at the locations listed below.[10] All locations were along Hakata Bay, within the city of Fukuoka.

In 1958, human bones corresponding to 200 bodies were found in Imazu near the defensive structure, with ceramics considered to have been used by those convened for the construction of the wall.[11]

Year Location Remarks
1968 Ikino Matsubara near Meinohama Station Use of sandstone and granite confirmed.
1969 Imazu near Shimoyamato Station Basalt and granite were used, differing by location.
1970 Nishijin near the center of Seinan University Clay and sand in alternate layers.
1978 Meinohama Stone fill; no clay. Width is 4 metres (13 ft).
1993 Near Hakozaki Shrine Few stones uncovered during railway construction. Nothing more of value found.
1996 Momochi near Fukuoka Dome Scattered stones were found and investigated during the construction of an apartment building.
1998 Ikino Matsubara near Meinohama Station Rear consists of alternate sand and clay layers.
1998 Nishijin Inside a Seinan University building, stone and sand fences apparent.[12][clarification needed]
2000 Near Hakozaki Shrine Railway construction led to uncovering and investigation of more of the wall

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cyclopedia of Japanese History [1994:6-765]
  2. ^ 石塁, Sekirui, now 元寇防塁
  3. ^ Shoji Kawazoe, Review: What does Genkō Bōrui Tell? History of Fukuoka City; Fukuoka (Journal, first issue) 2006, p.5-39
  4. ^ Shoji Kawazoe[1979:526-527]
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b Kawazoe[1979:527]
  7. ^ Kawazoe[1979:526]
  8. ^ Kawazoe[2006:6]
  9. ^ Kawazoe[2006:6] citing A New Study of Mongolian Invasion Site by Heijiro Nakayama.
  10. ^ 西新地区元寇防塁発掘調査報告書 [Nishijin Area Genkō Bōrui Excavation Report] (in Japanese), Fukuoka: Fukuoka City Board of Education, 2002 
  11. ^ Kawazoe[2006:17]
  12. ^ 西新地区元寇防塁発掘調査報告書[2002:1-20]

External references[edit]

  • 国史蹟 元寇防塁(生きの松原地区)復元・修理報告書 [Genkō Bōrui of Ikino Matsubara] (in Japanese), Fukuoka: Fukuoka City Board of Education, 2001 
  • Kei Okazaki, ed. (1984), Ancient Hakata (in Japanese), Kyushu University Press 
  • Shoji Kawazoe (2006), 市史研究 ふくおか創刊号 元寇防塁が語るもの [Fukuoka Journal First Edition, What Genkō Bōrui Tell] (in Japanese), Fukuoka: Fukuoka Museum Fukuoka City History Editing Committee, pp. 5–30 
  • 日本史大事典 6 [Cyclopedia of Japanese History 6] (in Japanese), Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1994, p. 765, ISBN 4-582-13106-9 
  • Shoji Kawazoe (1979), 国史大辞典 1 [Encyclopedia of Japanese History 1 a-i] (in Japanese), Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, p. 526,527 

[clarification needed]