Wakou – the japanese pirates

When we hear the name ''pirate'', a man with a beard who owns a ship, an eye patch, a wooden leg and a sword comes to mind, right?! But did you know that there are Japanese pirates too?

wakou (倭寇) is the Japanese term for pirates who could also be known as a ronin (samurai without lord). The literal meaning of the term is ''bandits of the country of Wa'' (Wa is the oldest registered name in Japan).

 These pirates or outlaws attacked the coasts of China and Korea during the thirteenth century. They were generally related to smuggling. 

How did Japanese pirates come about?

After losing their sire, some ronin became itinerant. Because they know how to fight, they caused a lot of problems, especially in China and Korea.

During what may be known as Japanese feudalism, these pirates terrorized part of Asia with theft and smuggling.

It's not clear when they first appeared, but they gained strength around the fourteenth century, as at this time China and Korea began to report more invasions by this group.

In the year 1405, the third shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu captured some of these pirates and sent them to China and ended up being severely punished. They were thrown alive in huge cauldrons of boiling water.

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

Story of the japanese pirates

Pirates were the terror of the seven seas, stole ships from empires, plundered a lot of cities and were feared. and they took advantage of the opportunities to engage in high-value smuggling. This was common during the Ming Dynasty in China. 

During this period, the main concern was to strengthen the country, which is why they suspended foreign trade. So legal trade was banned mainly on the west coast.

After these commercial divisions in China, Chinese and Japanese pirates began to mix. 

They also became popular because some people, even government leaders, paid these groups to get certain goods illegally.

Pirates didn't stay in specific regions, they went from country to country whichever was more advantageous. As the wakou were being persecuted they went to the Philippines and settled in the city of Parri.

But around 1852 their activities came to an end when Spaniards invaded the place. 

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

Pirates portrayed in anime

Surely anime couldn't be left out when performing pirates! The most popular is One Piece. 

In the story, the protagonist Luffy sails with his crew in order to find a treasure called One Piece that can make him the new king of pirates.

Luffy started his journey alone, but ended up looking for wholly unique people to be part of the Straw Hat Pirates.

It is interesting to note that most characters in the anime are inspired by real-life pirates and even celebrities.

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

Pirate-based One Piece Characters

– Marshal D. Teach, known as Blackbeard, is the admiral of the Blackbeard Pirates and a member of the Yonkou. 

His inspiration was from the English pirate Edward Teach. He sailed through the waters of the Caribbean and the east coast of the American colonies. 

He got this nickname because of the thick, dark beard he had. 

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

– Jewelry Bonney is inspired by an Irish pirate at the same time as Blackbeard, Anne Bonny. 

Bonny later became involved with John Rackham, famous for his black flag with a skull and two swords. Anne fought by dressing like a man, she wore a pistol and a sword and was considered very dangerous.

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

– Bartholomew Kuma, was inspired by the Welsh pirate Bartholomew Roberts. This pirate sailed off the coasts of the Americas and West Africa.

 Kuma was considered the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy so Bartolomew's death was marked as the end of the golden age of piracy in the Americas.

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

– Eustass “Captain” Kid was inspired by William Kid known as Captain Kidd. He was a Scottish ship commander who received orders from England to control French piracy in the Madagascar region.

In the end, Kidd ended up becoming a pirate and was elected captain by his crew. 

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

– Support is a pirate who commands the crew of Pirates On Air. He is inspired by the real-life pirate Chui A-poo.

Chui A-poo was a nineteenth-century Chinese pirate who commanded a fleet in the South China Sea. He became one of the most famous pirates of the time. In 1849, his fleet was destroyed by British and Chinese warships.

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

額隠 – 神秘的日本白布 Basil Hawkins also known as "The Mage" one is captain of the Pirates Hawkins. His name had two inspirations: Basil Ringrose and John Hawkins.

Basil Ringrose was an English pirate from the Caribbean port.

Already John Hawkins was an English slave trader, naval and administrator. He was a general of his own fleet of ships and those of the British Royal Navy. 

Wakou - the Japanese pirates

space pirates

Space pirates are also a rage in Japan and they have a special place in this category don't they?! I'll just mention two, here on the site you can find other suggestions for anime with pirates for you to marathon! 

Gokaiger Pirate Squad: this anime is from 2011 to 2012 and their style reminds me a lot of Power Ranger! This group of space pirates arrive on Earth in search of the greatest treasure in the Universe. 

This series commemorates 35 years of Super Sentai in Japan. Each year they launch a new season with different characters. They use weapons inspired by the classic pirates, with the garrucha (ancient pistol) and a scimitar (curved sword). 

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

– Captain Harlock: This series is kind of futuristic and tells of the moment when the Earth is in conflict with several other planets. Captain Harlock and his crew determined to fight the oppressors of planet earth.

Captain Harlock also has a 3D movie version released in 2013 in Japan and that series had a big influence on pop culture.

Wakou - the Japanese pirates
Wakou - the Japanese pirates

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