A lot of people have heard about the famous Mongol unsuccessful invasion to Japan during the 13th century. One of the reason why this event became so commonly known is because this attempt of conquering Japan was stopped by nothing more than the wind. Giving birth to the term “Kamikaze” or “Divine wind”.

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A battle scene from Moko Shurai Ekotoba of the Mongol Invasion

Even though this could be a great topic to cover, in today’s blog we'd like to introduce you to “Genko Borui 元寇防塁” a defensive wall created to protect the city against foreign assaults, especially Mongolian’s ones. In fact, without this 20 km long fortification bordering the coast, the battle’s outcome would have probably been different knowing the cruelty of Kublai Khan, the Mongol emperor at the head of the enemy's army.

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Map of the Genko Borui defensive wall in 1281 / Battle of Koan, 1281

Nowadays, the whole bulwark is not completely preserved but some remains are still visible along the coast of Fukuoka West ward (Nishi-ku). More precisely, we can now find 4 differents sites near the seaside starting from Fukuoka Tower (Nishijin station), to the western extremity of Imazu Bay. The one we’ll talk about in this blog is the biggest but also the most offset one : Imazu Stone Fortifications.

How to get there

From Tenjin : Kuko line (bound for Karatsu 唐津 or Chikuzen Maebaru 筑前前原*) stop at Imajuku station 今宿駅. Then take the Showa bus (bound for Nishi-no-ura) and stop at “Imazu Undokoenmae 今津運動公園前”.
* Not toward Meinohama because it’ll stop 2 stations before.

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When you get off the bus, it’s pretty simple : you will see a huge park in front of you, then you’ll have to take a diagonale street on your left heading toward the beach.Keep in mind, If go toward the 7 eleven convenient store, it’s the wrong away, retrace your steps and go in the opposite direction.

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After about 5 min of walk you should be able to see a green sign indicating “Imazu Stone Fortifications”, just follow it until you reach a map in front of a little forest. You are now in front of the actual site.

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Again, a serie of signs will guide you through the woods to the bulwark. When you reach, it is unmissable.

The wall

It was constructed by order of the Kamakura Shogunate itself, after the first devastating Mongol aggression in 1274. 2 years later, a 3 meter tall stone wall was erected. Good for them because 5 years later, in June 1281, the first half of the Mongol fleet appeared offshore. But this time, they could not seize the beachhead, too well defended. They then decided to retreat back to
Tsushima Island the rest of the army would catch them up. Which they did. However, the island was struck by a storm. As a result, 4000 moored and ready to depart naval ships, were drown in the water which made 80 percent of the army annihilated because of the weather conditions. Fate was on Japan’s side, but without the wall, the city may have not been spared.

In order to commemorate this event, the historical fortification was preserved until this day after being excavated. The 200 meter long portion of the wall has its almost complete length. The building process was to pile up stones in a trapezium shape, 3 meter large at the bottom and 2 meter at the top. There used to be 8 portions all along the coast, but only 4 are left today.

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The beach

Another great reason to visit this place is the beach right behind the wall. When one comes out of the little path winding through the woods, there is a rather surprising discovery. Even though, I bet that during the warm seasons there must be a lot of surfers and swimmers, for now, it is almost empty. This does not alter the beauty of the landscape. Plus, it is a very pleasurable spot to have a stroll and take pictures. Enjoy the view !

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We hope that this blog was informative while light hearted ! Leave us some comments below if you liked it !

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