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IN History & Culture ON 20 Aug, 2016
The Onna-Bugeisha were female soldiers belonging to Japanese origin and nobility. Japanese women used to willingly participate in various battles alongside samurai men. They used to fight courageously using the naginata sword to protect their families, houses and nation.
Check out these 12 powerful female samurai who were notorious fighters on the battlefield.
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There are numerous legendary tales marking the achievement of the male samurai warriors but little is known about the female ones. However, the recent pictures discovered by historians and researchers have proved that Japanese women used to actively participate in war during Edo period.
The Onna-Bugeisha was a special class of female martial artists belonging to Japanese nobility. These samurai women were especially, trained in the use of swords and spears.
Empress Jingu was one of the first female warriors in Ancient Japan who was trained in the art of Tanto Jutsu. She was also specialized in using naginata sword and kaiken dagger. Empress Jingu stepped in the battlefield after the death of her husband Emperor Chuai.
In 1881, she was immortalized as her picture was printed on Japanese bank notes.
Japan faced the Genpai war in 1180-1185 and it was the first war in which women played an important role in battle for the very first time in the country. The legend of warrior Heike Monogatari grabbed and chopped the head of enemies fiercely at the battlefield.
Legends of another female warrior entered the Japanese lexicon in the same period. Tomoe Gozen was a beautiful warrior with white skin, long hair and attractive features. She was a strong archer, powerful swordswoman and inspiring lady whose picture got printed on the postcard during the early 20h century.
During 16th century, samurai women were allowed to fight for the protection of their families and kids only. After winning the battle, samurai women used to organize the ceremonies in which they cleaned and prepared the decapitated heads of their enemies. Women were specialized in the art of samurai and always used to carry weapon for the protection of their families.
Women belonging to samurai class used to wear silk kimonos. While unmarried girls used to wear long-sleeve silk kimonos, married women used to don normal length sleeves kimonos. Married ladies used to blacken their teeth so that people can easily recognize their relationship status.
Women used to keep their hair long and straight before the Tokugawa era. During Edo period, samurai women made some changes in their hairstyle. Samurai women preferred bubble bun hairstyle for their large curvy hair as they carry it quite comfortably at the battlefield.
Women belonging to Edo period learned using powerful weapons just like their ancestors. While male samurai generally used katana swords, female samurai learned to use the naginata sword. The naginata sword was considered more appropriate for women because of its length and curvy shape.
Besides naginata, women also learnt archery during the Edo period. At the end of the Edo period, male samurai occupied the position of dignitaries from warriors and their wives followed the suit.
Nakano Takeko was one of the most skilled swordswoman in the history of Ancient Japan. She was a renowned warrior who fought aggressively in the battles of 1868. Takeko defended the Wakamstsu Castle with her fellow members of the Aizu clan. Unfortunately, Takeko was shot in the chest and she died during the battle.
Samurai class vanished after the Edo period but is still considered to be an important piece of history in the Ancient Japan. Many Japanese women receive training in martial arts and compete in various Judo competitions at the international level.
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Images via Imgur