SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

BORJIGIN Husel “Defensive Stonewall against the Mongol invasions”


I was in Fukuoka from 24 to 29 December 2021 to research “Genkou Bourui (defensive stonewall against the Mongol invasions)”.


Khubilai Khan, the fifth Khagan-Emperor of the Mongol Empire, sent his envoy to Japan  requesting “Friendly Relations” after his conquest of Goryeo (dynasty of Korea: 高麗) in thirteen centuries. However, Japanese Kamakura shogunate rejected the request and Mongolian forces including Goryeo forces attacked Japan twice in 1274 and 1281. Against such invasions, Kamakura shogunate ordered their Gokenin (shogunal retainers) in Kyushu areas to build 20 kilometers stone wall along Hakata Bay from Imazu to Kashii. We can see a part of such archaeological site now. It is so-called “Genkou Bourui (defensive stonewall in preparation for an attack by the Mongol invasions)”.


I arrived at Fukuoka on 24th of December in a Christmas atmosphere and went to Sawara district on 25th of December 25 to research stonewall there. At Nishijin station, I asked station attendant for the place stonewall against Mongol invasions. But he did not know about stonewall exactly and asked me “Is it a building or archaeological site?” I replied, “It is an archaeological site which have been built against the Mongol invasion”


I used the words “the Mongol invasions” instead of “stonewalls” because the words “Mongol invasion” are being used in Japanese textbooks popularly. Station attendant said, “I understood”. He entered station attendant room and confirmed with other attendants. He brought a map and showed me the way to the stonewall saying, “You can go there using No. 1 exit then walk along “Sazae-san street” and turn to left at the first crossroads and so on”. It seems people do not know exactly about stonewalls against the Mongol invasions. But everybody knows “Sazae-san street”. On a direction board at No.1 exit, we can read “Archaeological site of the Mongol invasion at 3,6,7-chome of Nishishin” or “Monument of Sazae-san (Sazae-san street)”.   


One of the stonewall of Nishijin 6,7-chome exists in Building No.1 of Seinan-Gakuin University. I did not know we can observe the wall from Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00 only. It was written on direction board. I walked around Building No.1 for a few minutes. But I did not see anybody around Building No. 1 because it was Saturday and the University was closed  for winter vacation. I went to other stonewall which can be seen at South of University Gym.


The Mongol Invasion Shrine came into my view first. The commemorative pillar of the shrine showed me, “Historic site: Stonewall against the Mongol Invasion. Built in October 1931”. I saw excavated stonewall beside of the pillar. I saw three trees which were planted by “Empress Nagako”, “His Highness Kuninomiya” and “His Highness Kaiinnomiya Haruhito and Prince Nashimoto Morimasa”. According to a material which I read later, October 20 festival at this shrine is a customary event.


Stonewall against the Mongol invasion was designated as National Archaeological site by Japanese Government in 1931. Excavation and restoration of the wall in early Showa era and construction movement of monument in Meiji era which I will write later have close connection with Japanese advancement to the (Chinese) continent at that time. 


I visited stonewall at Iki-no-Matsubara in Nishi-district next. I got off at Shimo-yamato station and confirmed the place of stonewalls with station attendant. He knew about stonewall in the area and explained me the way to the stonewall on map. A roadside board “Iki-no-Matubara stonewall against the Mongol invasion” (including a board which was built by board of education of Fukuoka city) was very helpful. There is a monument of the stonewall in woods of Iki-no-Matsubara and shows us that “Archaeological site of stonewall against the Mongol invasion: Built in March 1931 by the Natural Monument Preservation Act designated by Ministry of Education”. Along the coast, stonewall are piled up at two meters height and there was a notice board apart from the stonewall by a few meters. On this notice board, there is a reproduction of “Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion”. Stonewall was reproduced. But it was very impressive and made me think about the Mongol invasion fully.


On December 26, I went to Genkou (Mongol invasion) Archives on the second floor of two-stories building in Higashi-Park (on the first floor, there are ramen shop and yakitori shop only). There is no full-time staff in the archive and a staff of concession stand works in double hat. It is necessary to book in advance by telephone to visit this archive. Finally, I could contact them two weeks before my visit after making many telephone calls. When I arrived at the archive, the entrance was locked and found hand-writing memo “You are requested to contact stand”. So, I went to stand to explain myself. A staff confirmed that I was surely booked and opened a door. He explained that taking photos are prohibited and visiting time is limited to thirty minutes. I paid entrance fee and walked around.


In exhibition room on the first floor, I saw armored, stirrup, pot, bow and a part of “Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion”. On the second floor, there was another spacious exhibition room (more spacious than that of the first floor). There were various special corners like the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War and the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. According to a book which I bought in archives, it was established as a memorial hall of the Mongol Invasion in 1904 first. And it was reopened in 1986 as Genkou archives after being moved and rebuilt in the area of the association to preserve Saint Nichiren.


There is a bronze statue of Saint Nichiren next to the archives. The height is 10.55 meters, and the weight is 74.25 tons. In 1888, there was a movement in Japan for establishment of memorial statue of Genkou. According to a poster which called on an establishment of Genkou monument in 1887, they have planned an establishment of an equestrian statue of Houjyo Tokimune first. However, it was a bronze statue of Saint Nichiren that was completed in 1904 taking 17 years. It was the year 1904 when Japan went to the Russo-Japanese War. Over the years, people lost interests in a movement of establishment of Genkou Monument which was heated up all over the country nearly a hundred years before. Although I say the Genkou archives, the exhibited on the second floor is not so many. Together with precious and historical Genkou records, the records of the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War are mixed. Adding to those records, there are Ramen-stand and Yakitori-stand on the first floor. It is very indecisive. How ironic it is!


During my stay in Fukuoka, I researched the Genkou stonewall in Nagatare Kaihin Park and Chigyou (Chuuou-district). But I could not research the stonewall in Taka-shima.

I am looking forward to visit Taka-shima and Matu-ura City (both in Nagasaki Prefecture) next time.



SGRA Kawaraban 700 in Japanese (Original)



BORJIGIN Husel / Professor of Department of International Studies, Showa Women’s University



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sabina Koirala