Organized Panel Session
Although the Mongol Invasions of 1274 and 1281 did not succeed in bringing Japan under Mongol control, they had an indelible impact on the Japanese cultural psyche. The invasions not only affected how Japan saw itself in relation to other polities, but also catalyzed fresh interpretations of Japan’s history and place within the cosmos. This panel will explore how religious and political actors reimagined Japan as a land of the gods (shinkoku) and protected by the gods from ancient times. Jacqueline Stone examines how a massive ritual defense, conducted by elite courtiers and religious specialists during and after the invasions, stimulated new representations of Japan’s status as a uniquely sacred realm. Emily B. Simpson’s paper shows how this interpretation of Japan was projected onto an earlier historical time, examining how late medieval depictions of Empress Jingū’s legendary third century conquest of the Korean peninsula reimagined the conflict in terms of Japan’s moral superiority over a foreign foe. Lastly, Haruko Wakabayashi considers how this post-Mongol Invasion interpretation of Empress Jingū’s legend was utilized by Toyotomi Hideyoshi during his invasions of Joseon Korea in the 1590s, drawing particular attention to the importance of localized versions of the legend in Kyushu. Drawing on diaries, oral transmission records, shrine-temple origin narratives and picture scrolls, our panel investigates how the Mongol Invasions fundamentally altered Japanese visions of its past and future conflicts with the continent.