"Not So Divine Wind?"


Here's What They Say About The Project !!!

ACCORDING to legend, the Kamikaze, or "divine wind", twice saved Japan from subjugation by Mongolian invaders. But it now seems that bad boat-building came to Japan's rescue. .... Sasaki has now studied about 500 of these fragments, and worked out how the boats might have looked. However, less than 0.5 per cent of the 1.5-square-kilometre site where the fleet sank has been studied. Sasaki hopes that future sonar and ground-penetrating radar studies will reveal the remains of many more ships for analysis.

READ THE ARTICLE ON New Scientist Magazine


Given widespread interest, and the significance of the discovery, perhaps the time has come for an international funding effort to assist the expensive but archaeologically and culturally rewarding work being accomplished there.........the remains now emerging from the mud and water are one of the greatest underwater archaeological discoveries of our time, providing critical new information about Asian seafaring and military technology, as well as an invasion crushed by a legendary storm.

James Delgado, director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum on Archaeology Magazine

READ THE ARTICLES ON Archaeology Magazine

Hayashida's expedition is hardly the last word. So far his team has not covered even 1 percent of the battleground. If he can find the money and manpower to continue his work, we can expect a lot more details to unfold about the Mongolian invasion attempts.

Hideko Takayama on Newsweek






Under the rule of Kublai Khan the Mongol Empire expanded its territory and became the most powerful empire of the world at the time. In 1274, Kublai sent more than 900 ships and 40,000 troops to Japan. The Japanese Samurai fought bravely against the invading enemy and this unexpected resistance, combined with bad weather convinced the Mongols to retreat.

The emperor s desire to conquer Japan did not fade after this event. In 1281, he gathered a massive fleet of 4000 ships, and more than 140,000 troops from China and Korea, to invade Japan for the second time. Japan's subjegation was all but certain.

Then, the miracle happend..... KAMIKAZE!!!

A violent typhoon crushed the invading Mongolian fleet of more than 4,000 ships as it lay off the southern Japanese coast. At the time, the Japanese believed that the wind was brought by the gods to protect Japan, thus the word Kamikaze, or the divine wind, was born



Archaeological Discovery


The initial discovery of the shipwrecks was made by Dr. Torao Mozai in 1980's near the shores of Takashima Island in southern Japan. In 1990's, a team of Japanese archaeologists led by Kenzo Hayashida, a directory of Kyusyu Okinawa Society for Underwater Archaeology (KOSUWA), located the ships used by the Mongolian invaders. The excavation at the site revealed the remains of many ships and relics from this historically significant event.

Takashima is not a typical shipwreck site where one can see the shape of the hull at the sea bottom.......


Armor and weapons, pottery, and timber fragments; the majority of the timbers were found scattered across the seabed. As were single fragments of wood, less than 1 m in length. The degraded nature of the timbers poses the question of how to recover any useful information about the shipbuilding technology of East Asia. The only information that can be gleaned from these wood fragments is from the study of their joinery.* Furthermore, because the invasion was a multi-national event, and the nature of the site is complex, three timbers lying next to each other may all be from a same hull, or may come from three different ships built in different countries.

Thus, it is extremely difficult to interpret the site, and careful recording is necessary.

*- how each component of the ship is joined (nails, scarfs, etc)

More than 2000 artifacts have been recorded from the site. These artifacts tell us the story of the past and are currently undergoing conservation in Takashima, Japan. The picture of Tetsuhau, the world's oldest anti-personel explosive, is one of the important artifacts discovered at the site. Many porcelain and clay storage jars, some of them complete, have been found. Other artifacts from the site include personal items, such items as combs and bowls.


Despite the difficulities in interprtring the site, a team led by Hayashida have revealed some information regarding the nature of the shipbuilding technology represented at the site. The intensive recording of the timbers from the site is being planned beginning in 2004.

Although the analysis of the artifacts have not been completed, the information suggest that the vessels were constructed poorly. Some evidences for this can be found in low quality of iron nails, weak joinery, and even poorly fired pots. This may indicate that the ships were hastily built which in turn suggests inadequate preparation and planning for invasion.

So, was the Kamikaze savior of Japan, or was the invasion doomed from the beginning?

Further archaeological research at this site may provide an answer to this question...




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"Not So Divine Wind?"


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Photo Gallery 2004 --- A Site Dedicated to Promote Nautical Archaeology (Japanese Site)
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I would like to thank Kenzo Hayashida, director of Kyusyu Okinawa Society for Underwater Archaeology (KOSUWA)for participate in this project, as well as James Delgado, director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for introducing this wonderful opportunity for me. This Web-Site is created to introduce this historical significant site to public. Information regarding the ship's timber recording project will be included in furture updates. The timber recording project that will be conducted in 2004 is made possible by the generaous support of KOSUWA, RPM Nautical Foundation,and last but not least Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University.

This page was created by Ramdall J. Sasaki