For many years there was a lot of speculation about the role and importance of the “Onna-Bugeisha”, the female warriors who fought alongside the Samurai in ancient Japanese battles. Recent research has proved that these brave women received similar training in martial arts and strategy to their male counterparts. They were fierce, brave and important participants in the Samurai’s defense of the Bushido way of life. When remains from the site of the Battle of Senbon Matsubaru in 1580 were DNA-tested, 35 out of 105 bodies were female. Research on other sites has yielded similar results. While most Japanese women were subject to rigid social expectations of domesticity, onna-bugeisha (women warriors) were known to be to be every bit as strong, capable, and courageous as their male counterparts.
The most famous Onna-Bugeisha was Tomoe Gozen. There are countless manga stories that allude to her as the most bad-ass woman warrior in history, and for good reason. Tomoe was undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with—equipped with strong bow and long sword, sheathed in armor, and charging on horseback to defend friends and vanquish foes. Lord Kiso no Yoshinaka was so impressed by her skill as an archer and her courage as a warrior that he appointed her as his leading commander (ippo no taisho) in the Genpei War.
This drawing (by Andreia Escobar) is our tribute to Tomoe Gozen – no one has been able to erase her footprint in history as the quintessential female warrior; living proof that women can be as badass as any man on the battlefield.