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PBS 2005/9/16 02:23
PBS has a page called ''Japan : Memoirs of a Secret Empire . Samurai woman.'' http://www.pbs.org/empires/japan/tokaido_6.html

Does anyone know why some people call female samurai ''samurai-ko''?
by Sibert rate this post as useful

dude 2005/9/16 13:57
you dont become a samurai, you are born a samurai. its in your blood. all children born to a samurai are samurai, be it a girl or a boy. strange that people would think there were no female samurais. still, they were just plain soldiers. every country had them. some were brave and some were yellow bellied cowards
by looks like a lady rate this post as useful

Samurai-ko 2005/10/12 13:01
The term "Samurai-ko" was coined by the guys at TSR (the original makers of Dungeons & Dragons for their "Oriental Adventures" book. From what I've heard, "kuzamurai" is a lot more acceptable, though Dr. Alexander Takeuchi of the University of Alabama suggests "Onna-bugeisha" as probably the most proper term.
by Sanskrit rate this post as useful

Yes there are 2005/11/28 09:19
http://victorian.fortunecity.com/duchamp/410/main.html

Go to this website, it gives alot of info on female samurai and their customs.
by Jasmine rate this post as useful

Female Samurai yes 2006/4/18 17:51
As I understand it the word Samurai refers to a class of people, therefore the answer is yes.

Both were warriors, the males went away to war and the females stayed and protected the homefront as it were.

In early samurai history the Naginata was a male weapon used mainly for dealing with cavalry, as swords became more refined it lost favour and was relegated to a female weapon. Having much greater reach and therefore defensive capability.

I don't know how accurate my information is but if you check Japan today you see that most adherents to the Naginata are female. When this shift in attitude came about I don't know. maybe someone could let me know.
by porthos112 rate this post as useful

About ''Samurai-ko" 2006/4/25 09:52
The suffix "ko" is a feminie additive to a Japanese name...I've seen examples in subs when a male was impersonating a female and added "ko" to the back of his name ~.~;
by Shy rate this post as useful

Re: were there female samurais? 2006/4/26 06:37
I know a few female samurai armors still exist, such as this one at the museum of the Hikone Castle.
www.nobunagaou.com/hidari/siro/1d/img/043.jpg

Funny it has a facemask with mustache. It think they didn't want to be recognized as a woman at the field. (I believe they only fought when the castle was attacked).

There is also a famous Tsuruhime's Armor, the national treasure at Oyamazumi Shrine in Ehime.
www1.neweb.ne.jp/wb/maruto/umi/ohmishima.htm

Princess Tsuru was a teen fighter and the last survivor of Ochi Clan, and you can tell even from the photo that this one particularly was made to fit on the small and feminine body.

In any ways, Japanese women did not constantly act as samurai warriors, but it wasnft so rare that many females in the Samurai clans were taught the Code of Samurai and often well trained with the use of archery and Naginata swords.
by Dogu rate this post as useful

Yes, there where female Samurai! 2006/8/21 17:47
Almost always eliminated from popular knowledge of warriors in ancient Japan, is the role women played as wives of the samurai or warriors in their own right. The primary role of women of the samurai class had been to support the family and their husbands. During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), women were responsible for raising their children with the proper samurai upbringing. The women of this period were allowed rights to inheritance and to bequeath property. They controlled the household finances, and managed the staff. Women were also expected to defend their homes in times of war. This period in Japanese history produced some of the most famous women: Tomoe Gozen, wife of Minamoto Yoshinaka and a fierce warrior very proficient with sword and bow; and Hojo Masako (1157-1225), wife of Minamoto Yoritomo and known as the "nun shogun". In keeping with customs of the time, Hojo Masako became a Buddhist nun upon the death of her husband in 1199. After Yoritomo's death, Hojo Masako along with her father and son, usurped the real ruling power from her dead husband's ruling Minamoto clan to her own Hojo clan. Her efforts gave the Hojo clan true power over the now 'puppet regime' Minamoto clan.

After this period in Japanese history, daughters were used in power struggles as pawns in marriage. This practice greatly reduced the influence of women in the samurai class. Eventually, by the 17th century, women had lost their previous rights of inheritance and the ability to bequeath land. However, they were still expected to raise the children with the proper samurai education and defend the home in times of war.

One of these women of this period, Nakano Takeko, was highly skilled with the weapon called "naginata." The naginata is a long staff with a curved blade (looks like a small katana) at one end. The story of Nakano Takeko is in her defense of Wakamatsu Castle along with samurai of the Aizu clan. The Aizu clan were supports of the shogunate. Their battle (1868) was with the imperial forces and its restoration of Japan and elimination of the samurai class (you may be familiar with this time in history from the movie "Last Samurai"). The Aizu clan were greatly outnumbered -- 20,000 to 3,000. So the Aizu samurai put anyone who could use a weapon to use. A small band of women of the castle organized a unit to fight on the front line of this battle. Nakano Takeko charged into enemy lines, cutting down many men. She was only stopped by being shot in the chest. In order to avoid being taken by the enemy, her sister Yuko removed Nakano's head, as they had previously agreed upon, and Yuko took the head home in honor. Today there is a monument erected to Nakano Takeko at the temple "Aizu Bangemachi" in the Fukishima province of Japan.

Today in Japan, women are active in various martial arts and gained recognition by winning gold in the 2004 olympics in Judo.


Tomoe Gozen ( ǰ, Tomoe Gozen?) (1161?C1184?) was one of the few examples of a true female samurai in all of Japanese history. She was a samurai during the time of the Genpei War (1180C1185). Her name is pronounced "toh-moh-eh", and is translated as "perfect circle".

Most knowledge about Tomoe Gozen comes from tales and legends. Depending on the source, Tomoe Gozen was either the wife, concubine (mistress), or female attendant of prominent daimyo Minamoto no Yoshinaka. Many women of the time knew how to use the naginata to defend their home, and there are tales of female ashigaru, but Tomoe Gozen was a high-level samurai, skilled in riding, archery and kenjutsu. She was said to have been fearless and possessing great skill in combat. Fiercely brave and tirelessly loyal to Yoshinaka, she was one of his senior captains during the war, leading his troops, and accompanying him to every battle. She was well respected by men and fought bravely alongside them. In the Heike Monogatari (Tale of the Heike), Tomoe is described:

Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.
Tale of the Heike, McCullough, page 291.
After defeating the Heike and driving them into the western provinces, Yoshinaka took Kyoto and desired to be the leader of the Minamoto clan. His cousin Minamoto no Yoritomo was prompted to crush Yoshinaka, and sent his brothers Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Minamoto no Noriyori to kill him. Yoshinaka fought Yoritomo's forces at the Battle of Awazu on February 21, 1184, where it has been said that Tomoe Gozen took at least one head of the enemy. Although Yoshinaka's troops fought bravely, they were outnumbered and overwhelmed. When Yoshinaka was defeated there, with only a few of his soldiers standing, he told Tomoe Gozen to flee instead of facing death by Yoritomo.

There are varied accounts of what followed. One is that she stayed by his side, fought and died. Another says that she was seen fleeing the field with either the head of Yoshinaka or of an enemy samurai. Afterwards there is even more uncertainty. Some say that she cast herself into the ocean with the head, while others say that after surviving the battle she gave up the sword and became a nun. These different stories are what give the story of Tomoe Gozen its intrigue.

Since her time, Tomoe Gozen has cast a spell of mystery over the Japanese people. Because she was so unusual, some believed she was the reincarnation of a river goddess.

by Sakura rate this post as useful

Thank 2006/8/22 04:36
you for this information.
by Module rate this post as useful

Listen Up 2006/9/17 13:59
Hi in answer to your questions some of you asked of cause there was women samurais and as some people have already said they where called Samurai-ko and in Japan you can by thier dead skeletons
by Geak Buster rate this post as useful

Wrong 2006/9/18 13:49
dudes there were no female samurais it says in the Japanese samurai book made this year it says and i quote " Be born a boy all samurai are men"
by You don't need to know my name rate this post as useful

??? 2007/2/26 03:56
There were women who went into battle wearing samurai armor. They fought with bow & arrow from horseback.
by Junko rate this post as useful

To you don't need to know my name 2007/2/26 16:41
You are ignorant to think there was no women warriors in Japan history. They might not have been called "samurai" but they were the warriors nonetheless. Read some Japanese history, would you?
by tokyonet rate this post as useful

this is why I love this website! 2007/2/26 20:09
Thank you all for your amazing comments. My wife and I love to surf this website and have learned so much (and had so many good laughs)! As James Brown would say, go on with your bad selves!
by lee rate this post as useful

. 2007/2/27 01:17
It is open up to many interpretations. Were there women who put on armour and fought in battle? I have no doubts there were, but were they officially known as Samurai, and that answer would probably be no.
by John rate this post as useful

Well... 2007/6/13 20:00
If all samurai are, per definition, male, then here's a little question: What were the Joushigun then?

Also known as Joushitai or Aizu Women's Brigade, they were made up of young women from samurai families and these girls fought on the battlefield against the Satsuma-Choshu-Tosa alliance when Aizu castle was besieged. Their leader was the already mentioned Nakano Takeko.

They received extensive training with swords, naginata, bows and rifles. They tied up their kimono sleeves, wore hakama and carried the two swords. They even cut their hair and wore it like young men would (with that they disguised themselves on the battlefield). While their brothers joined the Byakkotai (horribly hyped IMO, they hardly saw any decisive combat action and the defense of the castle was left to the soldiers inside and the Joushigun around Nakano and the Johei -internal female combatants- led by the, rightfully, famous Teru-hime), they formed up as their own unit.

It wasn't just Nakano, as we see. Other women in the unit gained fame through their deeds either on the field or in the castle. For example: Jimbo Yukiko was reportedly slain at the battle of Yanagi Bridge, however, one other story tells us that she was captured alive by the Tosa, but refused to cooperate and was sentenced to death. The Tosa commander, reportedly moved by her spirit, even lent her his own shortsword so that she could commit jigai.

Yamamoto Yae was the daughter of the castle's 3rd gunnery instructor Yamamoto Gonpachi. She was skilled with the old teppo (basically outdated matchlock muskets) and the modern repeating rifles, such as Spencer, Sharpe, Henry, etc. Reportedly she commanded artillery inside the castle and gave the modern Satsuma batteries hell with her outdated cannons.

As it is, samurai were a social class, at first warriros, but eventually they became bureaucrats. A woman was certainly the daughter or wife of a samurai, but let's face it, that makes her effectively a samurai. Or is the wife of the King of France not the Queen of France? By status alone, these women were samurai. And even if we go by duties alone, they were samurai. Only if we go into their rights, they were not samurai. But that's similar to feudal and patriachic societies.

As for the kunoichi... I'd really like to see some reliable information about them, for once. The Wikipedia entry for it is horrible and pure and utter fiction (and bad one at that). Most of the stuff that's floating around comes from modern day pseudo ninjutsu teachers who try to sell something (face it, there is no real ninjutsu anymore, it's the "art of stealth", or are any modern ninjutsu dojos teach you how to infiltrate a fortress? Wilderness survival? First aid? Camouflage? Sabotage? Basic chemistry? No, what you learn is a toned down version of the unarmed fighting style, and that... is NOT ninjutsu). There's hardly anything reliable, that would withstand a thorough historic examination, around. Most of the stuff comes from sources such as Stephen Hayes and his allies, but, to be honest, Hayes has no bloody idea about history. Anything he has been writing about the history of "N" (personally I prefer calling them "shinobi") can be disproven as easily as farting after eating a pound of beans.
by Takekaze rate this post as useful

women warriors 2007/6/14 17:16
Fascinating post! many cultures had women warriors but in most cases they were only fighting when there was a war, while some men were soldiers by trade i.e wearing uniforms and training during peace time. the Ancient Greeks talk about a fierce group of women warriors, the Amazons, with awe. They may have been a legend but the Greeks didn't find the idea of fighting women implausible. the Celtic Queen Boudicea was a warrior Queen. Young Celtic women in Gaul would call over Roman soldiers then older women would sneak behind the soldiers and cut their throats.
Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) is France's most famous women warrior. No one in her days was surprised that she had short hair, was wearing an armour, had a sword. Indeed hundreds of Aristocratic Knights (French samourais so to speak)and their troops followed her orders. At the time French women (Jeanne was not from France), even the Queen, didn't have much power; however women in other parts of what is now France, regions that were then not yet French and were French wasn't spoken, could inherit their father title and his land, just like a son. A famous one is Alienor (Eleonor) of Aquitaine who kept tight a control of her lands through marriages with 2 different kings. During the Albigensian crusade, in what is now Southern France, numerous women,from working class ones to aristocratic ones, took arms against the invading troops of the King of France. several Toulouse women are credited with using a huge catapult, loaded with heavy stones,to kill Simon of Montfort, commander of the crusaders, forcing his troops to leave in defeat.
by Plantagenesta rate this post as useful

Warriors, yes.... Samurai, no 2007/7/18 03:39
for all intensive purposes no, the word samurai is gender exclusive to males and so to suggest the existence of female samurai is as such to suggest a male bride, it goes against the constraints of the word, female warriors however did of course exist but technically it is more academically correct to reffer to them as 'onna bugei-sha'
by TJ rate this post as useful

TJ is correct. 2007/7/27 11:04
There is no such thing as a ''female samurai'' in the same sense that there is no such thing as a ''female king'' or ''female prince'' etc. Yes, there were female warriors in Japan. Yes, there were females in the buke(the class samurai belonged to) class. No, there were no female samurai. The word ''samurai'' refers to a male in the buke class, it does not literally mean ''warrior''. This is an extremely popular misconception. One important thing to know is that the Japanese language works very differently from English. Things are not always easy to directly translate over.To find out about this in a more in-depth reading, visit the website: http://www2.una.edu/Takeuchi/DrT_Jpn_Culture_files/Nihon_to_files/Female_samurai.htm
by Andrew rate this post as useful

yes there has been female ninja's Etc 2007/8/12 00:47
yes, there has been female ninja's and all thourgh out japan's and aisa alike history. i think in japan they were called Kunoichi's or something like that.
anyways the whole Kunoichi entitlement was'nt limited to woman. at a time though out aisa band's of Village's use to train there young in the art of marshal arts. form as young as 6 to as old as 12. anyways after putting the students though a tournament they would give the most skilled the entitlements ninja for males and Kunoichi for females. and what ever happens from there onwards i'll let you jaw-heads ponder over :-P
by kite rate this post as useful

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