WOMEN OF HISTORY | TOMOE GOZEN (1157–1247) (Mika Nakashima)

Tomoe Gozen was a famous female samurai, even fighting in the Genpei War. (Female samurai were rare, but happened often enough that they had a name: onna bugeisha.)

The Heike Monogatari says of her: “…Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.”

Her end is unclear: some reports say she died in battle, while others claim she survived to become a nun.

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