The Last Samurai Women





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Uploaded on Jun 4, 2006

For many people warrior women seem to exist only in the world of exaggerated fiction, myth or summer movies. However, in many ancient cultures, they were real historic figures.

The Last Samurai Woman is a very brief introduction to a real human being who was an accomplished warrior and leader.

Abandon all thoughts of women suddenly taking up arms to face a dire situation. Nakano Takeko and her female comrades (they are later known as the Joshigun/Joushitai) of Aizu had studied martial arts SERIOUSLY PRIOR to the time their homeland was invaded in 1868 by Imperial troops during the Boshin War.

"Aizu's women warriors...received in-depth combat driling, particularly in the use of the halberd. Educated to be equally skilled in the 'ways of the pen and sword', they were also indoctrinated with the belief that their duty was first to protect their domain and lord, and then their families" (Wright 402)

Furthermore, this extraordinary group of women saw themselves as retainers to Teruhime (Princess Matsudaira Teru of Aizu) who was the adoptive sister of the domain's daimyo (lord) Matsudaira Katamori. You may learn more about her here:

These women were raised under strict patriarchal Confucian ideals therefore it would be a mistake to view them as feminists (although I'm sure they would appreciate some accomplishments made by modern feminists), when their first priority was to defend their home. I would like to add that some of the warrior women who did survive the entered the field of women's education during the Meiji Era.

Aizu was certainly not the only domain which trained women in the samurai social class to fight. Satsuma women fought alongside their male kin the Seinan War (Satsuma Rebellion) in 1876-1877. In the case of the Seinan War, the Satsuma domain had an offensive stance when it marched on Tokyo (after initially shifting its aim from Kyoto in search of the emperor) under the leadership of Saigo Takamori. That war was fictionalized and shown in the Tom Cruise film THE LAST SAMURAI (which interestingly failed to portray Satsuma samurai women)! Thus, like male samurai, their female counterparts take offensive and defensive actions based on the policy of their respective homes (domains).

Please try to find this excellent article to learn the full story:

Wright, Diana E. "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: the case of Aizu" War in History 2001 v. 8 (4) pages 396-417

or visit
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A related video is:
Byakkotai Tribute

I apologize for not creating a slide to mention the music credits so I'd like to mention here:
Hans Zimmer (which can be purchased online)

The biography will be completed by the scholar mentioned in the short video.

Technical notes:
I only had 4 hours to spend on this project so it is not as good as I'd like it to be.
I used windows movie maker and adobe photoshop.


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