735th Anniversary of the Divine Wind saving Japan

A contemporary depiction of the Mongol fleet in the throes of the typhoon

A contemporary depiction of the Mongol fleet in the throes of the typhoon

On August 15-16, 1281, a typhoon struck the Japanese home island of Kyushu, sinking and scattering a Mongolian fleet bent on invading Japan.  A previous invasion effort by Kublai Khan seven years before had met a similar fate.  This time the typhoon raged for two days, and many ships of the invasion fleet were flat-bottomed barges ill-suited to rough sea conditions.  An estimated 4000 ships were destroyed with the loss of 100,000 soldiers.

The Japanese saw divine intervention in these two storms and called them “kami kaze”    (神風or “divine wind”.  During World War II, the nickname “kamikaze” was applied to Japanese suicide pilots in the hopes that they would repel the American fleets as the typhoons had done with Kublai Khan’s.

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