Wako is a Japanese translation of the Chinese word Wokou. The first mention of a Wako clan was when Fujiwara Sumitomo a powerful diamyo [baron] got sent to destroy the first pirate clan known on orders from the emperor because it was swelling in size and posed a threat to eastern Japan in the mid 900s. When he killed the leader of the clan the pirates said that he was the new leader, he accepted and invaded eastern Japan. By then another pirate clan had formed and Fujiwara died fighting them. Afterwards an official from the imperial court fought the remainder of both pirate clans on a windy day so the wall of shields the pirates erected blew down. Both of the early pirates clans were wiped out but other Wako clans continued all the way into the early 1600s.
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Wako where Japanese pirates from approximately 900 to 1600 AD. They operated in the seas around Japan, Korea, China and south-east Asia. The name Wako was originally Chinese, Wa meant both dwarfs and Japanese and Ko meant Pirates. Actually the Wako were criminal clans that ranged from Japanese buccaneers to Chinese raiders to Korean ex-navalists. At certain times the Wako clans managed to invade the coast of Korea, China and Taiwan. Some Daimyos created Wako clans to raid on their behalf and in exchange for protection and legality of their actions they had to pay a portion of the spoils to the Daimyo.
In my next post I will tell you a story about the early Wako.