Tomoe Gozen and Onna Bugeisha

  • 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.
 Tomoe Gozen by Shitomi Kangetsu (1747-1797) Tomoe Gozen by Shitomi Kangetsu (1747-1797)