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Monday, May 16, 2011

The Onna-bugeisha

The Onna-bugeisha were a caste of Japanese female warriors. They were said to have such legendary combat prowess in sword, bow, spear, horseback riding, that a single unit of the Onna-bugeisha could match any three male units.

Some credit this to skill, others credit it to the Onna-bugeisha's reputed vicious approach to combat tactics.

The Onna-bugeisha were also trained in the literary arts and statescraft, suggesting they were also leaders and thinkers.

Historically the Onna-bugeisha were overshadowed by the more numerous and corrupt samurai caste.

Their existence in Japanese culture later led to women’s right to inherit and bequeath property. Prominent Onna-bugeisha were the Empress Jingu, Tomoe Gozen, and Hōjō Masako, and Nakano Takeko. Their influence later diminished significantly as Japan's culture switched from war to bureaucracy - and bureaucrats forced women out of roles of power - and the role of women once again became restricted to child-bearing.

However the history and myth of Onna-bugeisha warriors lives in Japanese popular culture - often showing up in popular manga and anime series.

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