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Samurai Weapons, Samurai Armor and the Samurai way of life

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Female Samurai

In traditional Japanese, the term 'Female Samurai', strictly speaking, is a technically incorrect usage of the word Samurai. 'Samurai' was a gender specific term used to indicate only the male members. However, in modern parlance, 'Female Samurai' has become the commonly accepted term for the women members of the Samurai class.

Throughout history, the warring class has been mainly a domain of men. However, the story of the Samurai includes several female samurai who demonstrated extraordinary fighting prowess, the spirit to defend one's honor and the strict adherence to the duty required of her towards her fellow warriors.

The naginata was a popular and widely used weapon among the womenfolk of the samurai. Consisting of basically a long pole with a curved blade at one end. Perhaps due to their slighter builds, female samurai were often given extensive training in the use of this weapon to fight with the enemy and defend themselves when required. Not surprising, many women became highly skilled in the use of the naginata.

Japanese epics and historical recordings mention several incidents of extreme courage and sense of duty exhibited by the female samurai. There are even prominent stories of the Samurai women taking upon themselves, the political duties of their deceased husbands. One woman, Hojo Masako, is believed to have been hugely responsible for rallying the Samurai together and having them stand by the shoguns.

Clearly, these snippets of history show us the kind of stature women enjoyed in the early Japanese samurai society. In fact, the laws in those times, gave clear rights to the women to stake an equal claim as their brothers in matters of property inheritance.

In the household, the women were accorded a high position in administrative matters. They controlled the household finances while also managing the domestic helpers. In addition to these duties, they were often summoned to fight in times of war. Also, the womenfolk of the male samurai were largely responsible for bringing up the children and raising them along the Samurai ideals of loyalty and courage.


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The high esteem given to women both in the household and as warriors lasted from the 11th up through 16th century. However, by the 17th century, when various clan struggles arose, women were sadly reduced to being pawns in the hands of their fathers and brothers. They were often given off in marriage to other samurai in exchange for political favors and alliances.

During this time, the general feeling arose that women were only necessary to bring forth children and were not fitting as comrades in war. Such sentiments, interestingly, resulted in a general trend of homosexuality among the samurai, when men started to seek companionship in other men due to the lack of female company.

Despite such alienation, the women of samurai were still expected to show moral values and a sense of bounded duty towards her husband. The act of a wife giving up her life or honor for the sake of her husband was a very popular theme in Japanese drama.

And even though warrior women were being suppressed, stories of female samurai displaying their martial prowess still surfaced from time to time. Especially during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 and in 1868, when the shogunate and the imperial army fought. During these battles, samurai women played a brave and important part.

One celebrated women, Nakano Takeko, is known to have been highly skilled in the use of the naginata and sword. During the struggle between the shogunate and the supporters of imperial restoration in 1868, she charged into the enemy lines and fought bravely to cut down many a man. Unfortunately, she was eventually shot to death. Her head was removed by her sister to prevent the enemy from obtaining it.

A monument to Nakano Takeko was erected in the Hokai temple in Aizu Bangemachi, Fukishima province. Her courage, loyalty and understanding of honor well represented her sisters of the Female Samurai.

About the Author:  Scott Harker is the publisher of several websites including: Sherlock Holmes Pastiches, Next Vacation - Go Sailing, and Ovarian Cysts.



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samuri weapons

News About Female Samurai

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Posted on Friday December 15, 2017

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

One of Japan's few female Shinto priests was killed in a Samurai sword attack. Was it sibling rivalry? - Washington Post
Posted on Monday December 11, 2017


Washington Post

One of Japan's few female Shinto priests was killed in a Samurai sword attack. Was it sibling rivalry?
Washington Post
The attackers struck as the priestess stepped from her chauffeured car. It was the night of Dec. 7 at the Tomioka Hachimangu, a centuries-old Shinto shrine in Tokyo famed for its annual festival and association with Japanese sumo wrestling. Nagako ...

and more »

'Samurai sword' attack leaves three dead at Tokyo shrine - BBC News
Posted on Friday December 08, 2017


BBC News

'Samurai sword' attack leaves three dead at Tokyo shrine
BBC News
The wife reportedly attacked the priestess's driver, stabbing him with a sword. The driver fled the scene, pursued by the woman. Police said there was a trail of blood down the road but the driver's wounds were not life-threatening. The priestess ...
Three dead after Shinto priestess slain by brother with samurai sword in succession row at Tokyo shrineTelegraph.co.uk
Ex-priest, wielding samurai sword, kills priestess sister at prominent Tokyo shrineFox News
Samurai swordsman kills priestess and another woman at Tokyo shrine before taking his own lifeEvening Standard
New York Daily News -Daily Mail -Newser -The Japan Times
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Armed robbers threaten woman with Samurai sword at Darlington ... - The Northern Echo
Posted on Thursday December 07, 2017


The Northern Echo

Armed robbers threaten woman with Samurai sword at Darlington ...
The Northern Echo
A WOMAN was threatened with a Samurai sword and a hammer when three men raided a newsagents last night.

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Man's hilarious takedown of racist woman at airport goes viral - NEWS.com.au
Posted on Thursday December 07, 2017


NEWS.com.au

Man's hilarious takedown of racist woman at airport goes viral
NEWS.com.au
African-American music executive Emmit Eclass Walker claims he was waiting to board his flight at Ronald Reagan Washington Airport with his first-class ticket when the white, blonde woman behind him refused to believe he could have been a first-class ...

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Posted on Friday December 08, 2017


Daily Nexus

Pulling Back the Red Curtain: Why Hollywood is Currently Outdated
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Whether it's casting Gerard Butler to be a Pharaoh in Egypt or Scarlett Johansson to be a female Japanese android, Hollywood always seems to take the stories of different cultures without casting people from those cultures. An example of just how ...

1 Man with shotgun and samurai sword arrested after SWAT ... - KSNV - News3LV
Posted on Wednesday November 22, 2017


News3LV

1 Man with shotgun and samurai sword arrested after SWAT ... - KSNV
News3LV
A suspect is in custody after an hours-long standoff with police near Pecos Road and Owens Avenue.Dispatchers received the call around 5:49 p.m. Monday night in the 3300 block of Durham Avenue.The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department says two ...

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The Last Samurai Women - a Story of Nakano Takeko