Hakata Bay (博多湾, Hakata-wan) is a bay in the northwestern part
of Fukuoka city, on the Japanese island of Kyūshū. It faces the
Tsushima Strait, and features beaches and a port, though parts of the
bay have been reclaimed in the expansion of the city of Fukuoka. The
bay is perhaps most famous for the Mongol invasions of
Japan of 1274
and 1281 which took place nearby; both invasions are sometimes
referred to as the "Battle of Hakata Bay."
The Bay is defined by shoal Umi-no-nakamichi and tombolo
Shika-no-shima (Shika Island) to the north, and Genkai-jima (Genkai
Island) to the northwest, and the Itoshima Peninsula to the west. Five
wards of Fukuoka city border on the bay, which is sometimes labeled
"Fukuoka Bay" on maps. Sometimes, the bay is divided into Hakata,
Fukuoka, and Imazu Bays, though for simplicity's sake, the term
"Hakata Bay" is commonly used as a catch-all to refer to all three.
The bay is roughly 10 km from north to south, and 20 km from
east to west, covering an area of roughly 133 km². The coastline
stretches 128 km. The mouth of the bay is only 7.7 km wide,
shielding it to a great extent from the waves of the Strait. The bay
is only 10 metres deep on average, 23 m at its deepest point, though
the tides bring a two-metre change in the water level. Set routes are
used, therefore, through the bay, to protect ships' drafts.
Land reclamation began to be undertaken before the Meiji period, and
continued into the post-war period. Since 1945, 1167 square kilometres
of land have been reclaimed from the bay, primarily to improve or
reinforce the effective functioning of the port. In 1994, an
artificial island was begun to be created and called "Island City"
Some particular petrified trees in the area are said to have been the
masts of ships used in Empress Jingū's third century invasion of
Korea. Veins of mica and pegmatite under the bay, part of a geologic
fault, are under governmental protection.
Much of the area is included in the Genkai National Park, and efforts
are made to maintain and preserve the natural features and environment
both in the bay and on its islands. Though much of the shoreline is
natural, some parts, particularly in and around the port itself, are
artificial and developed upon; the bay's shoreline was, somewhat
crudely, officially designated as natural wilderness and parkland.
A number of small islands are contained either within the bay or
Hashima (端島, Ha Island)
Island City (アイランドシティ)
Mishima (御島, Mi Island)
Noko-no-shima (能古島, Noko Island)
Shika-no-shima (志賀島, Shika Island)
Ugu-shima (鵜来島, Ugu Island)
Hō-jima (宝島, Hō Island)
The bay and its surrounding settlements were active and significant
locations as early as the 3rd century and the Kofun period. Many
historical figures of great significance passed through or lived in
Hakata, and many major events occurred there. The ruins of Fukuoka
Castle lie along the bay, and an active port has existed there for
The area is said to have been recognized by China as early as 57 CE.
Emperor Guangwu of Han
Emperor Guangwu of Han is believed to have bestowed a Golden Seal to
the local leaders, acknowledging (or granting) their authority over
the area then called
Na no kuni
Na no kuni (奴国, Na Country or Na Province).
Emissaries from the Chinese kingdom of
Cao Wei arrived in the 3rd
century, and Empress Jingū is said to have launched her invasion of
Korea from this port. By the 7th century, Hakata was the port through
which official missions to T'ang China were sent and received.
Following the defeat of Yamato (Japan) and
Baekche in the battle of
Hakusukinoe in 663, fears arose of invasions from
Silla and China, and
areas around the bay were fortified. The first mention of the area (by
the name Chikushi) in the
Nihon Shoki corresponds to this time period.
Kūkai was one of many famous people who journeyed to China through
this port. In 806, he returned to
Japan and founded
nearby. Sugawara no Michizane, after having been ambassador to China,
and holding a number of other high posts at Court in Kyoto, was
demoted to a post in Hakata in 901. Fujiwara no Sumitomo, having
opposed Taira no Masakado's rebellion in 939, fled to Hakata two years
later, where he was captured and killed.
As the closest major bay and port to mainland Asia in Japan, Hakata
has played a major role in diplomacy and trade with Korea and China
throughout much of history. This also made it, however, a key point of
attack for attempts to invade the Japanese islands. In the Toi
Invasion of 1019,
Jurchens seized several nearby islands, using them
as bases from which to raid and attack Hakata.
Mongol emissaries first arrived in 1268, and all the samurai armies of
Kyūshū was mobilized in anticipation of the first of the Mongol
invasions of Japan, which came six years later. Kublai Khan's forces
seized Tsushima and
Iki Island before landing on the shores of Hakata
Bay on November 19. The invaders were eventually repelled, and
extensive fortification efforts were undertaken in the ensuing years.
The second invasion arrived in 1281, and was similarly
repelled.:442–450 Though referred to in Japanese as the battles
of Bun'ei and Kōan (文永と弘安の役), both of these invasion
attempts are frequently referred to in English sources as the "Battle
of Hakata Bay."
In April 1336, at Tadara-no-hama on the bay,
Ashikaga Takauji led a
force against the Kikuchi clan, allies of Go-Daigo, led by Kikuchi
Taketoshi. Victorious, Takauji "at one stroke the Ashikaga leader
became virtually master of Kyushi." 
Francis Xavier arrived in Hakata in 1550,
introducing Christianity to Japan.
Kyūshū would be the center of
Japan for several decades, as a number of daimyō
(feudal lords) and their subjects converted. Toyotomi Hideyoshi
invaded the island in 1587, and banished the missionaries, outlawing
Christianity as a threat to his power.
Edo period (1603-1868), Hakata handled only for domestic
trade, as international trade or travel was forbidden by the Tokugawa
shogunate except at designated ports. Hakata reopened to international
trade in 1899. Following the end of World War II, this was one of the
primary ports through which Japanese soldiers and civilian residents
of the colonies were repatriated. Hakata remained an important port
throughout the post-war period, and still serves this function today.
Coordinates: 33°37′05″N 130°19′59″E / 33.6180°N
130.3330°E / 33.6180; 130.3330
^ a b Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 1334-1615. Stanford
University Press. p. 47. ISBN