Tomoe Gozen and Onna Bugeisha

Tomoe Gozen by Shitomi Kangetsu (1747-1797)
  • She was a female samurai (Onna Bugeisha) who fought in the Genpei war supporting Minamoto.
  • According to the legend she was very beautiful and strong. She could even fight against the demons and gods.
  • It is said that about 2% of all the samurai were female (Onna bugeisha).
  • The samurai usually got married with women from other samurai families meaning the tradition of samurai was well preserved in the family.
  • Wives and daughters of the samurai often felt a need to protect themselves from the enemy clans and trained alongside of their husbands and fathers.
  • When a samurai died, his wife must have taken care of the family and protect the reputation of the family. If she were to be captured, she must have committed seppuku (harakiri).
  • The most typical weapon of the female samurai was naginata.
  • As the matter of fact during the Edo period there were many naginata schools that only trained women.
  • Nevertheless, Edo period was also the time when Japan became more male dominant because of the Confucius ideas came from China and the fact that there were fewer female samurais.
  • Female Japanese warriors always existed in different phases of Japanese history. The picture of empress Jingu (ruled Japan before the Kofun Period) apperaed on Japanese banknotes in 1881.

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