Battle of Bun'ei

The Battle of Bun'ei (文永の役, Bun'ei no eki),[2] or Bun'ei Campaign, also known as the First Battle of Hakata Bay, was the first attempt by the Yuan Dynasty founded by the Mongols to invade Japan. After conquering the Japanese settlements on Tsushima and Iki islands, Kublai Khan's fleet moved on to Japan proper and landed at Hakata Bay, a short distance from Kyūshū's administrative capital of Dazaifu. Despite the superior weapons and tactics of the Mongols, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China in the early 1270s, the Yuan forces that disembarked at Hakata Bay were grossly outnumbered by the samurai force; the Japanese had been preparing, mobilizing warriors and reinforcing defenses since they heard of the defeats at Tsushima and Iki. The Japanese defenders were aided by major storms which sunk a sizable portion of the Mongolian fleets. Ultimately, the invasion attempt was decisively repulsed shortly after the initial landings.

Battle of Bun'ei
Part of the Mongol invasions of Japan

Japanese samurai defending the stone barrier at Hakata.[1]
DateNovember 19, 1274
Hakata Bay, near present-day Fukuoka, Kyūshū
Result Japanese victory.
Kamakura shogunate Mongol Empire
Commanders and leaders
Shōni Sukeyoshi
Ōtomo Yoriyasu
Kikuchi Takefusa
Takezaki Suenaga
Liu Fuheng
Kim Bang-gyeong
~10,000 ?
Casualties and losses
Light Light (before the typhoon)

The Yuan troops withdrew and took refuge on their ships after only one day of fighting. A typhoon that night, said to be divinely conjured wind, threatened their ships, persuading them to return to Korea. Many of the returning ships sank that night due to the storm.[3]

The battle

After landing in the bay, the Yuan force quickly overran the town of Hakata (now a ward of Fukuoka), but were engaged by a number of samurai soon afterwards.

At first, the samurai were hopelessly outmatched; accustomed to smaller scale clan rivalries, they could not match the organization and massed firepower of the invaders. The Mongols fought with precision, loosing heavy volleys of arrows into the ranks of the Japanese. The Mongols also employed an early form of rocket artillery, and their infantry used phalanx-like tactics, holding off the samurai with their shields and spears. Though unable to conclusively defeat the Yuan forces, the Japanese fought hard and inflicted heavy casualties.

In the course of the day's fighting, the Hakozaki Shrine was burned to the ground.[4]

Despite their initial victories, the Yuan did not pursue the samurai further inland to the defenses at Dazaifu.[5] Nihon Ōdai Ichiran explains that the invaders were defeated because they lacked arrows.[6]

More likely this was a result of their unfamiliarity with the terrain, the expectation of Japanese reinforcements, and the heavy losses already suffered. The Yuan force, which may have intended to carry out a reconnaissance in force rather than an immediate invasion, returned to their ships. That night, the Yuan lost roughly one-third of their force in a typhoon. They retreated back to Korea, presumably at the prodding of their sailors and captains,[7] rather than regrouping and continuing their attack.

Main Battles of Battle of Bun'ei

Battle of Tsushima Island - Mongolian Victory

On October 5, about 1,000 soldiers of the Mongol Army landed on Komoda Beach.[8] Sukekuni So(宗助国), Shugodai of Tsushima Island was killed in action. Mongolians slaughtered dwellers of Tsushima.[9]

Battle of Iki Island - Mongolian Victory

On October 14, Taira no Kagetaka(平景隆), Shugodai of Iki led about 100 soldiers. They were defeated by the Mongolian army, and Shugodai committed suicide in Hidzume Castle(樋詰城).[10] About 1,000 Japanese soldiers were killed there.

Battle of Hirato Island , Taka Island and Nokono Island - Mongolian Victory

On October 16 to 17, Mongolian army attacked the base of Sashi Clan. Hundreds of Japanese soldiers and Husashi Sashi(佐志房), Tomaru Sashi(佐志留) and Isamu Sashi(佐志勇) were killed.[11]

Battle of Akasaka - Japanese Victory

Mongolian Army landed on Sawara District and encamped in Akasaka.[12] On seeing this situation, Kikuchi Takefusa (菊池 武房) surprised the Mongolian army. The Mongols escaped to Sohara, and they lost about 100 soldiers.[12]

Battle of Torikai-Gata - Japanese Victory

Thousands of Mongolian soldiers were awaiting in Torikai-Gata. Suenaga Takesaki(竹崎季長), one of the Japanese commanders, assaulted the Mongolian army and fought them. Soon, reinforcements by Michiyasu Shiraisi(白石通泰) arrived there and defeated the Mongolians. The Mongolian casualties of this battle are estimated at around 3,500.[13]

Withdrawal of Mongolian army

Due to the defeat in the battle of Torikai-Gata, the Mongolian army was exhausted. So they withdrew to their own ships. On seeing this situation, the Japanese army did night attacks and killed many soldiers. Finally, Hong Dagu decided to withdraw to Yuan Dynasty. In the midst of the withdrawal, they met a typhoon, most of their ships sank and many soldiers drowned.[14]

See also


  1. This excerpt is taken from the narrative picture scroll Moko shurai ekotoba, which was painted between 1275 and 1293 -- see Mongol Invasions of Japan
  2. In the name "Battle of Bun'ei," the noun "Bun'ei" refers to the nengō (Japanese era name) after "Kōchō" and before "Kenji." In other words, the Battle of Bun'ei occurred during Bun'ei, which was a time period spanning the years from February 1264 to April 1275
  3. Davis, Paul K. (2001). 100 decisive battles: from ancient times to the present, pp. 145-147., p. 145, at Google Books
  4. Turnbull, Stephen R. (2003). Genghis Khan and the Mongol Conquests 1190–1400, p. 66., p. 66, at Google Books
  5. Davis, p. 145., p. 145, at Google Books
  6. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 262., p. 262, at Google Books
  7. Davis, p. 147., p. 147, at Google Books
  8. 『八幡ノ蒙古記』「同十一年十月五日卯時に、對馬國府八幡宮假御殿の内より、火焔おひたゝしく、もえいつ、國府在家の人々、焼亡出来しよと見るに、もゆへき物もなきを、怪しみけるほとに、同日申時に、對馬の西おもて、佐須浦に、異國船見ゆ、」(1ウ)其数四五百艘はかりに、凡三四萬人もやあらんと、見るはかり寄来る、同日酉時、國府の地頭につく、即地頭宗馬允資國、八十餘騎、同日丑時、彼浦にゆきつく、翌日卯時、通人真継男を使者として、蒙古人に、事のしさいを尋る処に、散々に舟よりいる、大船七八艘より、あさち原へ、おりたつ勢、一千人もあらんと見ゆ、其時、宗馬允、陣をとりて戦ふ、いはなつ矢に異國人、数しらす、いとらる、此中に大将軍と、おほし」(2オ)き者四人、あし毛なる馬にのりて、一はんに、かけむかふ者、宗馬弥二郎に右の乳の上を、いられて、馬よりおつ、此時、馬允に射倒さるゝ者、四人、宗馬允かく戦ふといへとも、終にうたれぬ、同子息宗馬次郎、養子弥二郎、同八郎親頼、刑部丞郎等に三郎、庄太郎、入道源八、在廰左近馬允手人、肥後國御家人、口井藤三、源三郎、已上十二人、同時に討死す、蒙古、佐須浦に火をつけて、焼拂ふよし、宗馬允か郎等、小太郎、兵衛次郎」(2ウ)博多にわたりて告しらす、」
  9. 『高麗史』 巻一百四 列伝十七 金方慶「入對馬島、撃殺甚衆」
  10. 『八幡ノ蒙古記』「同十四日申時に壱岐嶋の西おもてに蒙古の兵船つく、其中に二艘より四百人はかりおりて、赤旗をさして東の方を三度、敵の方を三度拜す、其時、守護代平内左衛門尉景隆并御家人百餘騎、庄三郎か城の前にて矢合す、蒙古人か矢は、二時はかりいる間に守護代か方にも二人手負、異敵は大勢なり、終に叶ふへくもなかりけれは、城のうちへ引退て合戦す、同十五日に、攻めおとされ」(3オ)て城の内にて自害す、」
  11. 『八幡ノ蒙古記』「同十六□(日カ)、十七日の間、平戸、能古、鷹嶋の男女多く捕らる、松浦黨敗す。」
  12. 『蒙古襲来絵詞』詞四「たけふさ(武房)にけうと(凶徒)あかさか(赤坂)のちん(陣)をか(駆)けお(落)とされて、ふたて(二手)になりて、おほせい(大勢)はすそはら(麁原)にむ(向)きてひ(退)く。こせい(小勢)はへふ(別府)のつかハら(塚原)へひ(退)く、」
  13. 『高麗史』 巻八十七 表巻第二「十月、金方慶與元元帥忽敦洪茶丘等征日本、至壹岐戰敗、軍不還者萬三千五百餘人」
  14. 『高麗史』巻一百四 列伝十七 金方慶「諸軍與戰、及暮乃解、方慶謂忽敦茶丘曰、『兵法千里縣軍、其鋒不可當、我師雖少、已入敵境、人自爲戰、即孟明焚船淮陰背水也、請復戰』、忽敦曰、『兵法小敵之堅、大敵之擒、策疲乏之兵、敵日滋之衆、非完計也、不若回軍』復亨中流矢、先登舟、遂引兵還、會夜大風雨、戰艦觸岩多敗、?堕水死、到合浦、」


  • Davis, Paul K. (1999). 100 Decisive Battles: From Ancient Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514366-9; OCLC 45102987
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Odai Ichiran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691
  • Turnbull, Stephen R. (2003). Genghis Khan and the Mongol Conquests, 1190-1400. London: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-96862-1

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