samurai weapons
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


Modern Tokyo Times

Legendary Japanese Female Warrior: Tomoe Gozen and the Female Samurai Class
Modern Tokyo Times
Samurai females, titled onna bugeisha, were trained in several key areas because of the need to protect themselves during periods of enemy attacks. Hence, females were trained to use the sword, the flexibility of the bow and arrow, and the naginata.



Hartford Courant

Police: New London Woman Wielded Samurai Sword In Domestic Assault
Hartford Courant
Juanita Bentley, 51, of New London has been charged with first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace. Police said she slashed someone with a decorative Samurai sword inside the apartment she shares ...

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Methods Unsound (blog)

Lone Wolf and Cub: a long-read guide to samurai cinema's tender ...
Methods Unsound (blog)
An in-depth look at Lone Wolf and Cub. An epic journey through all six movies, featuring samurai cinema's most hyper-violent, yet touching father and son duo.

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The Verge

Samurai Jack returns deeper, darker, and more violent than ever before
The Verge
The darkest and most violent actors of season five's first two episodes are a cadre of seven female assassins, bred as killers and disciples of Aku. These black-clad warriors move in a pack to hunt, trap, and kill Jack once and for all. When they find ...
The Return of Samurai Jack Is Everything You Wanted, and So Much MoreGizmodo

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Crunchyroll News

"Ninja Girl & Samurai Master" 2nd Season Key Visual Posted for April 7 Premiere
Crunchyroll News
The official Japanese website for the TV anime adaptation of Naoki Shigeno's four-panel historical comedy manga Nobunaga no Shinobi/Ninja Girl & Samurai Master announced today that its second season "Ise, Kanegasaki-hen" is set to premiere on Tokyo MX ...



ABS-CBN News

WATCH: 'Ninja' Thirdy saves mom Jodi from samurai | ABS-CBN News
ABS-CBN News
Jodi Sta. Maria and her son Thirdy had a unqiue mother and son bonding experience during their visit to Japan.

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STLtoday.com

Lincoln County man used samurai sword in attack, police say | Law ...
STLtoday.com
TROY, Mo. • Authorities have charged a Lincoln County man with first-degree assault after witnesses say he attacked another man with a samurai sword early ...

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New York Times

When Japan Had a Third Gender - The New York Times
New York Times
For centuries before Japan adopted Western sexual mores, its ideas of gender were elastic, with male adolescents seen as the height of beauty.

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Kidderminster Shuttle

Samurai Judo Club record breaker Leah Grosvenor bags her black belt
Kidderminster Shuttle
SAMURAI starlet Leah Grosvenor has become the youngest female judo player in Worcestershire ever to win her black belt. Leah gained the coveted grade on her fifteenth birthday, the youngest age at which it is possible to hold the grade. Only one player ...



The Watchdog

BC learns the ways of the samurai
The Watchdog
She also addressed female samurai, which are not talked about as much. “They went into battle, they were excellent archers, had excellent horses, they used swords, they used something called a naginata, which is a wicked weapon, it's like a spear with ...


Google News

The Last Samurai Women - a Story of Nakano Takeko