It’s not every day you see a historical discovery that makes you exclaim, “Wow, awesome!” But that’s what happened yesterday, when I saw that the remains of a ship thought to be part of the Mongol invasion fleet had been discovered with its keel intact. The story is quite famous: in 1274 and 1281, Kublai Kahn sent fleets of ships to invade Japan through the southernmost island of Kyushu, with both invasion efforts failing with the help of great storms
which ravaged the ships, which came to be known as kamikaze, or “divine winds.” (In case you’re wondering, the Western use of the word kamikaze to mean “reckless suicide attack” isn’t used here; the word for that is tokkou, literally meaning “special attack”). The failure of the Mongols to achieve a “Norman Conquest of the East” was a pivotal point in history, and it guaranteed that Japanese culture would continue to develop internally for centuries, without being subject to outside influence.
A Mongol ship from 8 centuries ago.