Finding an exact date for ancient stuff is hard. Sun dials and lunar cycles and harvests, how did anyone in ancient Mesopotamia ever make it to Two for Tuesdays? How? So let’s look at events, the dumb decisions of ancient times and wonder how tight their bad idea jeans must have been…
The Mongols were good for lots and lots of things. Riding horses, extremely accomplished. Creating a potent alcoholic drink from horse milk, done and done. Conquering the largest land empire ever, check and mate. They rampaged all over China, Russia, Korea all the ’stans (Central Asia) and Eastern Europe up to Vienna (did they not like Vienna Fingers? Who doesn’t like Vienna Fingers? Did the Mongols even try to dip them in the fermented horse milk? Mystery unsolved). While Mongolia is a vast open space of grass, it does not have a coastline nor a large body of water for Mongols to practice their boating skills. This would lead to a bad jean moment for the Mongols.
Bad idea jean moment:
Invading Japan, not once but twice. For those not keeping score at home, Japan is an island in the Pacific Ocean and in the 13th Century the only way to get there is by a boat. In 1266, Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan (he of Xanadu pleasure-dome fame) sent a message to the Japanese Emperor asking for a tribute, no response. In 1272, after conquering all of China the year prior they decided to invade Japan. Khan went all in. 500 to 900 ships and 40,000 warriors. The best Japan could do was 10,000 samauri (there was infighting amongst Japanese samauri a good amount of them decided to sit this battle out). The Japanese decided to attack them bushido style, calling out for one-on-one combat. The Mongolian forces attacked them in mass and shot poisoned arrows at them (that’s just rude, they should fight by the rules of the home team). It was a rout. The few surviving Japanese retreated for the night fully expecting to be killed the next morning. However, the Mongolian fleet with the army in tow decided to sail deeper out to sea, worried that rough waves would run their boats ashore. Big whoops. A typhoon hit and the invasion was cancelled with the surviving Mongolians heading back to mainland Asia. Kublai Khan’s first taste of sushi would have to wait.
Fast forward, to 1281, Kublai Khan decides to invade Japan again after Japan has beheaded his emissaries. Japan mustered every weapon and samauri it can find. They build a 15 foot defensive wall, 25 miles long around Hashata Bay and waited. Khan sends two fleets one from Korea and China. The one from Korea gets their first and is held off, with samauri taking small boats out at night to light Mongolian boats on fire. Then the fleet and army from China arrive. It looks like the Japanese are going to get overrun and everyone will have to learn to love BBQ and fermented horse milk.. a “divine wind” or kamikaze arrives and destroys most of the Mongol fleet. The surviving Mongols on land are hunted down. Kublai Khan doesn’t get a vacation spot that sells live seafood in vending machines.
How tight were the jeans? Not tight enough if the Kublai Khan invaded Japan twice. Granted, it took divine acts of nature to foil both attempts. Either that or the Khan has a high tolerance for chaffing.
The Mongolian Empire kept expanding, so while a mild embarrassment it was really a hiccup in their conquests. The Japanese developed a national identity with these invasions being central events. So good job living on a land mass that attracts tropical storms Japan? The real losers were the tens of thousands of Mongolian officers, Chinese and Korean sailors and soldiers who had watery graves all because Mongolia, Korea and China were not big enough for Kublai Khan.