Fukuoka: Cenotaph rebuilt for victims of Mongol invasions

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Former yokozuna Hakuho, bottom right, visits the site of the reconstructed cenotaph overlooking the sea in Fukuoka City on Nov. 29.

FUKUOKA — A stone cenotaph for victims of two Mongol invasions of Japan in the 13th century has been recently reconstructed on the top of a 158-meter-high hill overlooking the sea in Fukuoka City.

Former yokozuna Hakuho participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 29 for the monument, which was originally erected at the end of the 19th century but which had collapsed, most likely during a 2005 earthquake that struck off the west coast of Fukuoka Prefecture.

The original monument was built by the local people to commemorate victims on both the Japanese and Mongolian sides during the Mongol Empire’s attacks on northern Kyushu.

The hill on which the monument stands has been termed Mt. Moko (meaning Mongolia), as it is said to have been used as a lookout point during the invasions.

The impetus for the rebuilding project began in 2020, when a Mongolian student in Japan visited the site and made an appeal to the Mongolian Honorary Consulate in Fukuoka to have the cenotaph restored.

From there, a project was launched and donations collected mainly through the consulate and a Mongolian friendship association for the Kyushu and Okinawa regions. Trees and underbrush that had overgrown the site were cleared to give visitors a clear panoramic view.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia.

Mongolian-born Hakuho, now stablemaster Miyagino, was among the about 100 people from both countries who attended the ceremony.

Honorary Consul Shiitev Altan Erdene said the project proceeded with the hope that the site can be a place that helps deepen bilateral exchanges.