Onna-Bugeisha - Japanese Female Samurai - History

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Did you know that Samurai in Japan were not only male, but female samurai also existed even as early as 200 AD. The female Samurai were called Onna-Bugeisha.

The Onna-Bugeisha was trained in both bare-handed and armed martial arts. Also strategy, and fight alongside male Samurai to defend their home, family and honor. Centuries before the rise of the samurai class in the 12th century, the onna-bugeisha were recognized as being as strong, deadly, and brave as their male counterparts.

After Tomoe Gozen's reign, onna-bugeisha developed and became a large part of the samurai class. Female warriors would protect villages and open schools throughout imperial Japan to train young women in martial arts and military strategy.

Although there are many different clans scattered throughout Japan, all of them included samurai warriors and all recognized the prowess of the onna-bugeisha.

Historical sources provide some notes about the onna-bugeisha, that the role of a Japanese noblewoman was not limited to housewives and wives.

Recent research has shown that Japanese women were often involved in combat with the discovery of skeletons from the site of the Battle of Senbon Matsubaru in 1580. At the site, 35 of the 105 bodies were women.

Female Ninja Known as Kunoichi

During the 16th century, the existence of female ninja known as "Kunoichi". Ninja served as assassins, spies and messengers with specific missions. He was trained in martial arts such as taijutsu, kenjutsu, and ninjutsu. One of the historically accepted kunoichi is Mochizuki Chiyome.

Chiyome is a poet and noblewoman assigned by a warlord to create an all-female secret spy group. He gathered various circles of women, including prostitutes and naughty women.

They were trained by Chiyome to be information gatherers, seducers, messengers, and assassins. Over time, an underground network of kunoichi learned to disguise themselves as Shinto shrine maidens, priestesses, or geishas, allowing them to move freely and gain access to their targets. Eventually, Chiyome and her kunoichi had built an extensive network of between 200 and 300 agents serving the Takeda clan.

The Wain Weapon is Naginata.

Onna-bugeisha are trained to use weapons specifically designed for women, called naginata. The naginata is in the shape of a long stick with a curved blade at the end. The length of the naginata allows the onna-bugeisha to maintain a better balance, given their smaller stature than men.

During the peacetime of the Edo Period, the naginata became a symbol of social status and was often part of the dowry for noble women. Later, in the Meiji era naginata became popular as a female martial art, many schools were created focusing on the use of the naginata.

The Battle of Aizu Was Considered Their Last Fight.

During the Battle of Aizu in 1868, a 21-year-old female warrior named Nakano Takeko leads a group of female samurai, known as Joshitai, against the emperor's forces. Takeko is the daughter of a high-ranking official in the Imperial court.

She is highly educated and trained in martial arts and the use of the naginata. Under his command, Joshitai fought alongside male samurai, killing many enemy soldiers in close combat. At the end of his history, Takeko was hit by a bullet in the chest.

While dying, the 21-year-old woman asked her sister to behead her so that her body would not be taken as an enemy trophy. Nakano Takeko is widely regarded as the last great female samurai warrior, and the Battle of Aizu is considered the last fight of the onna-bugeisha. Shortly after, Japan's feudal-era military rule or shogunate fell, marking the end of the samurai era.

The Status of The Onna-bugeisha Collapsed During The Edo Period.

The Edo period in the early 17th century greatly changed the status of women in Japan and although women continued to fight in battle, their status was greatly debased.

When male samurai shifted their focus from war to work in teaching or bureaucracy, the existence of the onna-bugeisha changed. Many women were seen as child bearers, unfit as companions in war. Traveling during the Edo Period was difficult for onna-bugeisha, as they were not allowed to take on roles without a male companion. High-class women with power, mighty, fearless devotion, and selflessness, were transformed into quiet and passive civil obedience.

The Legacy of The Onna-bugeisha Bas Buried in The 19th Century.

In the 19th century, Westerners began to rewrite the history of Japan's war culture. When the whole world took up the idea that samurai warriors were men. Search

The onna-bugeisha's heroic quest is buried in history. Japanese women are only depicted as submissive and submissive, wearing kimonos and tightly tied obi (cloth belts).


Famous Onna-Bugeisha Characters :

1. Empress Jingu

The history of the first onna-bugeisha is depicted through the courage of Empress Jingu (169-269), the first female warrior in Japanese history. After the death of her husband, Emperor Chuai, she ascended the throne and personally led the invasion of Silla, which we know today as Korea.

Jing? was a mighty warrior who defied every social norm of his time. She is said to be pregnant when she fought in Korea. Legend has it that he led a successful expedition unharmed, and continued to rule Japan for the next 70 years until the age of 100. In 1881, Jingu became the first woman to appear on Japanese banknotes.

2. The most famous onna-bugeisha is Tomoe Gozen.

The Genpei War (1180-1185) fought between rival samurai dynasties of Minamoto and Taira, gave rise to one of Japan's greatest female warriors, a young woman named Tomoe Gozen. Gozen which means "woman".

Tomoe Gozen is a legendary swordsman who is skilled in archery, horseback riding, and the art of the katana, the iconic sword used by samurai. In the 14th century "The Tale of Heike", Tomoe Gozen is described as, "a very powerful archer, and as a samurai he is a warrior worth a thousand, ready to face demons or gods, on horseback or on foot." She is known as one of the few female warriors to engage in combat, known as the onna-musha.

On the battlefield, he was respected and trusted by his troops. In 1184, he led 300 samurai into fierce battles against 2,000 Taira clan warriors and was one of the 5 Minamoto clan survivors.

Later that year during the Battle of Awazu, he defeated the leader of the Musashi clan, decapitating him and keeping his head as a trophy. Gozen's reputation was so high, that it is said that its leader, Lord Kiso no Yoshinaka, considered him Japan's first true general.

3. Hojo Masako was the first onna-bugeisha to enter politics.

The first wife of the shogunate of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), Hojo Masako was the first onna-bugeisha to become a prominent player in politics. After her husband's death, Masako became a Buddhist nun initially, but later continued her involvement in politics.

In ancient Japan, a wife abandoned by her samurai husband would traditionally become a Buddhist nun. He played a key role in shaping the careers of his two sons, Minamoto no Yoriie and Minamoto no Sanetomo, who became the second and third shogunate.

Under the ama-shogunate, laws governing shogunate courts allowed women to have the same right to inheritance as siblings. Women gained a higher status in the household, and were allowed to control finances, maintain their homes, manage servants, and raise their children with proper samurai upbringing.

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