Kamikaze (神風)

Kamikaze (also called as Kamukaze and Shinpu) was Shinto vocabulary. It meant wind blown by god.

In ancient times, according to the Suininki in the Nihonshoki (the Chronicle of Japan, Japan's first official history), "Ise no kuni (Ise Province), land of the divine wind, is where the waves from the unchanging land beyond the sea (i.e., heaven) return." And Yamato Hime no Mikoto, who made an appearance in ancient myths as one who received an oracle from Amaterasu Omikami, said "I think the divine wind resides in this province." This term, "of the divine wind," was the most common poetic epithet used to refer to Ise.

Kamikaze of Genko (the invasion of Mongols in 1274 and 1281)

The violent wind that supposedly blew during the Genko. It is now thought to have been a typhoon, or possibly a violent gale caused by a cyclone, that passed by western Japan at that moment by chance. The armies of the Yuan and Goryeo Dynasties that invaded Japan were defeated due to this wind.

Due in part to the influence of the description given in the "Dainihonshi" (the Great History of Japan), it is widely believed that the so-called divine wind arose twice, once during the Mongol invasion of 1274 and again during the Mongol invasion of 1281, but it is only confirmed to have occurred during the 1281 invasion; the most likely explanation for the failure of the 1274 invasion is that the Mongol army withdrew of its own volition due to lack of supplies, and that no violent wind occurred.

Shinpuren no Ran (Shinpuren Rebellion)

It was a rebellion caused by a group of samurai against the Meiji government at Kumamoto-jo Castle in 1876. It is also called Shinpu no Hen. The term "ren" was used in Kumamoto to delineate local societies. Please refer to Shinpuren no Ran for more details.

The Shinpuren, with their undercurrent of extreme patriotism, held a restorationist, anti-foreign philosophy, and as such were deeply opposed to the bakufu's policy of opening the country. The name of the Shinpuren (Keishin party) came from the Shinto religion.

Among works that refer to this are the "Hojo no Umi, Volume 2, 'Honba'"('Runaway Horses,' Volume 2, The Sea of Fertility) by Yukio MISHIMA.

Train and planes

The Asahi Shinbun plane that successfully completed a record-breaking 100-hour flight from Tokyo to London in 1937 was named "Kyunanashiki shireibu teisatsuki kamikaze go" (Type-97 'Divine Wind' Scout-plane), and because its crew members intended to worship at the aforementioned Ise Jingu Shrine upon their return to Japan, on May 24 of the same year, the Osaka Electric Tramway (Daiki), parent company to the contemporary Kinki Nippon Railways (Kintetsu), and its subsidiary, Sangu Express Railways (Sankyu), began service on a special commemoratory link from Uehonmachi (today's Uehonmachi Station) in Osaka to Ujiyamada station, the closest train station to Ise Jingu Shrine; they named this express train the "Kintetsu Tokkyu Shisangu Tetsugo" (the Kintetsu 'Historic Shrine Visit' Express).

Starting the next day, 'Kamikaze' was used for the name of their regular trains on this line; they continued running until 1938 as promotional trains of Daiki. In addition, a classical piece called Piano Concerto No. 3, inspired by the 'divine wind' of the airplane's crew, was composed by Hisato OZAWA of Kobe.

Kamikaze of World War II

Kamikaze' greatly influenced the later ideology of Japan. The "Kamikaze" created by the special attack teams was to subdue the armies of the Allied forces like the Kamikaze that chased away the Genko. The word, "enKamikaze" became familiarized in various nations afterwards as an attack without any regard to danger imposed on oneself.

The Kamikaze was used as an adjective to describe suicide bombing terrorism of Al-Qaeda by various media (European media as well as those on the Arabic side). Kamikaze in English and 神風 (kamikaze) in Japanese is an example of a foreign derived word that differs from the original definition of the word. Another example is the postwar practice, even in Japan, of calling out-of-control taxis "Kamikaze taxis".

*Right before the end of World War II, an escort carrier of the American Pacific Fleet, unaware of the significant threat typhoons represented, went straight into an area suffering a typhoon. It suffered damage similar to that from an air attack at the end of the war.

The 'Kamikaze' of Herodotus

According to the "History" of Herodotus (who was an historian of ancient Greece), when the fifth-century B.C. Persian empire of the Achaemenid dynasty sent its forces to invade mainland Greece, its navy encountered a 'divine wind' off the Athos peninsula and was utterly destroyed, forcing the Persian army to defeat in chaos without ever having fought a battle.

Greek Mythology states that this wind was caused by the god called Boreas, who brought the cold wind from northern Greece during winter and occasionally caused great destruction.

The myth in which Boreas abducts Princess Orithyia of classical Athens was well known and often depicted in art objects, and the people of classical Athens considered Boreas to be their kinsman.

Moreover, "the North Wind and the Sun", one of Aesop's Fables, is said to be originally describing the dealings between Boreas and the sun god Apollo.

[Original Japanese]