Ghost of Tsushima: Exploring the Historical Inspiration Behind the Locations

  • Giuseppe Rossi
  • Apr-23-2024
Ghost of Tsushima: Exploring the Historical Inspiration Behind the Locations

Released in 2020, Ghost of Tsushima has captured the imaginations of players worldwide with its breathtaking landscapes, intricate storytelling, and deeply engaging gameplay. Set in the late 13th century, the game follows the story of Jin Sakai, a samurai on the island of Tsushima during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. While the game's narrative and characters are fictional, the island itself and many of its landscapes are steeped in historical reality, deeply rooted in Japanese history and culture. This article delves into the historical inspirations behind some of the most iconic locations in Ghost of Tsushima, comparing them with their real-world counterparts.

1. Tsushima Island

Located between the Japanese mainland and the Korean Peninsula, Tsushima is an actual island, and its depiction in the game is geographically faithful to reality. Historically, Tsushima served as a buffer zone and point of contact between Japan and Korea. During the Mongol onslaughts of 1274 and 1281, it truly stood as a primary barricade against the invading Mongol armies, just like depicted in the video game. The island's natural beauty, from its dense forests and mountainous terrain to the tranquil waterfalls and rolling plains, mirrors the real Tsushima's diverse landscape, which has a rich history of samurai culture and was historically governed by the powerful Sō clan.

2. Komoda Beach

A crucial location in Ghost of Tsushima, Komoda Beach is where the first devastating encounter between the Mongol invaders and the samurais of Tsushima takes place. In historical records, Komoda Beach was indeed one of the landing sites in the 1274 invasion. The game captures the geographic layout with significant accuracy, displaying sandy shores backed by forests which match historical descriptions and archaeological findings - objects and remnants found suggest a violent confrontation occurred in this area.

3. Kaneda Castle

Ghost of Tsushima

Though Kaneda Castle in the game serves as the ancestral home of Jin Sakai and a pivotal location for several key events, there is no real Kaneda Castle on Tsushima. The inspiration for this site appears to be a mix of multiple feudal castles and strongholds that existed in Japan during that era. The design of Kaneda Castle, with its imposing stone walls and strategic position, is reminiscent of many mountain castles built in Japan during the feudal period, designed to serve as powerful fortresses against invasions and as administrative centers.

4. Hiysahi Springs

Hiyoshi Springs in the game is a serene location known for its healing hot springs, reminiscent of many such springs found across Japan, which have been popular for their therapeutic properties since ancient times. While there isn't a direct real-life counterpart named Hiyoshi Springs on Tsushima, Japan’s rich onsen (hot spring) culture, which often features scenic views and traditional inns, is well reflected here. The spirit of these locations is captured beautifully in the game, highlighting a significant aspect of Japanese leisure and health practices.

5. Yarikawa Stronghold

Ghost of Tsushima

The game’s Yarikawa Stronghold has a particularly rich backstory involving a rebellion and a siege that is crucial to the game's plot. While Yarikawa itself is a fictional location, it draws inspiration from assorted historical uprisings and sieges throughout Japanese history. The design of the stronghold, with its defensible gates and tactical layout, resembles those of ancient Japanese forts used during periods of internal strife and warfare. Yarikawa’s portrayal fits well into the samurai era narrative, symbolizing resistance and resilience.

6. Kushi Temple

Kushi Temple, a place of Zen peacefulness and training for samurais in the game, represents the significant influence of Buddhism in Feudal Japan. Though a specific Kushi Temple does not exist in the historical records of Tsushima, the architectural style and spiritual function mimic that of many Buddhist temples found in Japan. These temples were not only religious centers but also places of learning and, occasionally, refuge in times of war. The in-game location beautifully captures the architectural elegance and spiritual ambiance associated with Japanese Buddhist temples.

7. Fort Sakai

Ghost of Tsushima

Fort Sakai, another significant but fictional locale in the game, serves as a fortified stronghold for the samurai hero. While there is no actual Fort Sakai on Tsushima, the concept is reminiscent of the many smaller forts and watchpoints used throughout the island’s history to monitor and defend against invasions. The strategic importance of such locations is well documented in Japanese defensive strategies during the Mongolian invasions, showcasing the blend of historical authenticity and artistic license used to craft the game's narrative and world.


Ghost of Tsushima masterfully intertwines historical elements with fictional storytelling to create a rich, immersive world that respects and celebrates Japanese culture and history. While many locations in the game are not directly taken from history books, their essence and representation carry the spirit of the true historical Tsushima and feudal Japan. Through its beautifully rendered landscapes and thoughtfully designed architecture, the game offers not only entertainment but also a poignant portal into the past, allowing players to walk in the footsteps of the samurai and explore the beauty of ancient Japan.

Whether a fan of history, gaming, or storytelling, Ghost of Tsushima provides a unique opportunity to explore and experience the life and challenges of a samurai warrior, blending historical facts with creative liberties that both educate and entertain.