Whenever history channel does a special on the samurai, they fail to mention the female warriors known as the onna-bugeisha (女武芸者?)! these female warriors belonged to the japanese upper class- many were wives, widows, daughters, and rebels who answered the call of duty by engaging in battle, commonly alongside samurai men. they were members of the bushi (samurai) class in feudal japan and were trained in the use of weapons to protect their household, family, and honor in times of war.
Often, the onna-bugeisha’s are mistakenly referred to as female samurai, but this is an oversimplification and the onna-bugeisha’s history precedes the samurai warrior class. significant icons such as empress jingu, tomoe gozen, nakano takeko, and hōjō masako were all onna-bugeisha who had a significant impact on japan.
rare vintage photo of an onna-bugeisha