The life and times of an excitable 20-something woman living in the frostbitten wilderness of Upstate New York.
An onna-bugeisha (女武芸者) was a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese upper class. Many wives, widows, daughters, and rebels 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. They also represented a divergence from the traditional “housewife” role of the Japanese woman. They are sometimes mistakenly referred to as female samurai, although this is an oversimplification. Onna bugeisha were very important people in ancient Japan. Significant icons such as Empress Jingu, Tomoe Gozen, Nakano Takeko, and Hojo Masako were all onna bugeisha who came to have a significant impact on Japan.
I was tired of seeing Samurai girls drawn in skimpy unprobable outfits just for the sake of fanservice. how are they gonna fight in that! so I drew my own gender-bent samurai in a proper armor. there you go.
note: this is not an Onna bugeisha. They are often defined female samurais, but there are some differences. I wanted to draw a proper samurai who just happens to be a woman.
mmh. I should start a series of illustrations with unfetishized women in traditional men roles.*ponders*
Tomoe Gozen, the Flower of the Battlefield. Said to posses martial prowess that rivaled that of men, she was also known for her bravery, strength, as well as her stunning beauty. When her master, Yoshinaka Minamoto, managed to defeat the Taira at the beginning of the Genpei War, he openly declared his intentions to rule the Minamoto clan. His cousin, Yoritomo, took exception to this and sent his armies to crush Yoshinaka. Standing alongside her master, they fought bravely in the Battle of Awazu but in the end were outmaneuvered and outnumbered. Sensing the end was near, Yoshinaka urged Tomoe to escape. Reluctantly, she heeded the words of her master, but not before she took one more head in battle, the head of Hachiro Moroshige. From there, she is said to have evaded capture and sought refuge in the eastern provinces.
Many stories are told of her later life, some saying she gave up the sword entirely, others claiming she was defeated in a duel against Yoshimori Wada and thus becoming his wife. Although her existence is often debated, Tomoe Gozen stands as an example to women who follow the Way, being capable warriors and willing to fight in defense of what they believed in. Even today, she is remembered and honored by both men and women not as a woman who fought in the battles of men, but as a samurai who fought alongside her master.
- Martin AKA SorrowfulKain
Ginchiyo Tachibana, the daughter of the renowned Dosetsu Tachibana and every bit as fierce as her father. Though she was raised as most women were in the Sengoku period, she took little interest in those teachings and instead opted to focus on the martial arts. In time, Ginchiyo proved to be extremely capable in the ways of war, much to the satisfaction of Dosetsu. As he was nearing the end of his life his need to name an heir became great. Although his retainers urged him to name a distant relative as the inheritor, Dosetsu was firm in his decision that his daughter become head of the Tachibana after his death.
However, Dosetsu later adopted Muneshige and wished for he and Ginchiyo to marry. Ginchiyo did not trust Muneshige and when Dosetsu did pass, full control of the Tachibana went over to her. It was very uncommon for a woman to have such a position of power, but Ginchiyo proved herself once again as a capable leader, setting precedents in her time. There are many stories of many men who underestimated her, including Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who was invited to the Tachibana estate during the Kysushu campaign. Expecting to find her passive, he was said to have been intimidated by her and the presence of her maids who were armed as samurai.
For five years she continued to lead the Tachibana and keep the clan’s enemies at bay. In time, she grew to trust Muneshige and married him, passing the leadership of the clan over to him. The exact nature of their relationship, however, is debated. Some say that their marriage was only political and they had no love for one another, while others maintain that they were truly in love. There are even stories that when the Eastern Army attacked the Tachibana she fought right alongside her husband.
The life of Ginchiyo Tachibana stands as a testament that the Way knows no gender and that the makings of a fierce warrior and capable leader have more to do with what is within a person rather than what they are on the outside. Though she was born in a world dominated by men, she rose above the gender roles of her day and established herself and her place in history.
- Martin AKA SorrowfulKain