The story behind Ghost of Tsushima

The story behind Ghost of Tsushima

The story behind Ghost of Tsushima


With feudal Japan and samurai combat as its context, Ghost of Tsushima captivated more than a legion of players and, inevitably, became one of the most anticipated games at the end of the PlayStation 4 life cycle. We first saw this installment of Sucker Punch Production at the PlayStation conference at E3 2018 and since then remains on our radar as one of the must-sees of the year.

After a short delay, Ghost of Tsushima will arrive on July 17 to tell the story of Jin Sakai, one of the last surviving samurai warriors of his clan, after the Mongol invasions. Their mission is to protect their people and regain their home. Ghost of Tsushima stands out with an exceptional combination: breathtaking aesthetics, open world, samurai combat, and traditional Japanese music, but its story also stands out, as it portrays a crucial chapter of feudal Japan: the Mongol invasions.

The historical events on which the game is based are probably the most famous of the development of the country of the rising Sun due to its impact on the Asian region, as they managed to stop the expansion of the Mongol empire. These events can only be compared to the end of the Second World War due to their cultural, social and economic importance.

Let's start by saying that Tsushima - also called Tsushima no Kuni - is an archipelago (another in addition to the great Japanese archipelago itself) that is located in the strait of the same name, between the eastern channel of the Strait of Korea and Japan, and the Asian continent. It currently belongs to Nagasaki prefecture. This location made Tsushima very attractive to the great Mongol empire - which was the second largest in history - which was founded in 1206 by the great warrior and conqueror Genghis Khan. This character unified the Mongolian nomadic tribes and his leadership managed to conquer a vast territory that reached its peak by spanning from the Korean peninsula to the Danube river in Europe.

Having wiped out entire nations in its campaign to dominate the East, the Mongol empire knew that Tsushima was the only obstacle standing in the way of advancing Japan and thus consolidating its power in Asia. At the time of the invasion, the Mongol leader was not Genghis Khan, but his grandson Kublai Khan, the last great khan (a word that gives emperor or great lord status). Within the Ghost of Tsushima fiction, it is called Khotun Khan. As emperor of China, Kublai Khan had become infatuated with the conquest of Japan and sent emissaries to offer two options: submit to the great khan peacefully, or await an invasion. In addition to conquering the territory, Kublai had in mind the area's great gold mines to add to his already vast wealth.

The Mongolian armed forces were not accustomed to large sea crossings, and that was the first obstacle they encountered when they set sail from the Korean peninsula in the direction of Tsushima. The great battles where the Mongols had been victorious were the product of the immense clouds of arrows with which they decimated the opposing forces and their world-famous ability to fight on horseback. However, they now faced an enemy that he knew they intended to invade. It took 6 years from the "invasion notice" until the Mongol army got the necessary fleet for its purpose and in October 1274 the ships reached Tsushima.



On October 5, 1274, a total of 15,000 soldiers between Mongols and Chinese, 8,000 Korean soldiers, who traveled in 300 ships and more than 500 small vessels, descended on a small island of 700 km². The defense was carried out by a cavalry force of just 80 men, led by the island's governor. The result: a butcher shop.

Surely these facts were what inspired the epic trailer for the game, where we see Khotun Khan ask Jin Sakai (the Ghost of Tsushima) if he accepts the surrender. The overwhelming Mongol victory took the invasion to other regions and raised it to a new level that was known as the First Modern War, due to the use of weapons technologically superior to the Japanese. Among the arsenal were powerful bows, poisoned, incendiary, and even explosive arrows, massive crossbows, and the earliest recorded grenades.


Fortunately for the Japanese, the weather played a determining role in their favor. A typhoon destroyed more than 200 Mongolian ships and those that had been shipwrecked on the beach were taken by the samurai who got close enough to kill a large number of Mongols who had not landed. The result was the withdrawal of that first invasion.

This fact is very important for the bushi or Japanese warriors, who in those days used the Tachi or long sword of about 78 cm in length, very effective in combat on horseback. However, this war tool was impractical for hand-to-hand encounters, and even more so to cut or pierce through the very hard Mongolian bovine leather armor.

The Bushi took advantage of those lessons to start using the katana, a shorter and more effective sword for close combat. Thus began the proliferation of the katana as the samurai's favorite weapon.



Kublai Khan would not sit idly by, so he began planning a second invasion that happened 7 years later. An immense army of 40,000 Chinese troops and 900 ships attempted to cross the Japanese coastal fortification on August 15, 1281. The Japanese, without ceasing to fight, but seeing that they were vastly outnumbered, asked the gods for help. They pleaded with Amaterasu, deity of the sun, that the enemy not destroy their country, and that's when the term kamikaze or "divine wind" was created, which the American translators during the Second World War erroneously called "god of the wind", as a reference to those pilots who deliberately decided to die and, as a last resort, crashed their plane into enemy targets.

The "divine wind" at Tsushima was an even stronger typhoon than that of the previous battle. It lashed the Japanese coasts for two days and wiped out more than 80% of the Mongol troops.

After the destruction caused by the kamikaze, it is said that a person could walk along the Tsushima beach and only step on the bodies and remains of the boats. This is how Kublai Khan decided not to invade a country that was protected by the gods again.

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