If you’ve always been fascinated by samurai legends and ancient lore, you should know the story of Tomoe Gozen, one of ancient Japan’s most famous female samurai legends and warriors.
Much of what the world knows about Tomoe Gozen’s life is from legend, and her story reportedly inspired generations of samurai.
Tomoe Gozen lived during the 12th century when female samurais were more prevalent than some may think. She was considered an onna-musha, which means a woman who fought on the battlefield.
Other types of female samurai at the time included the onna-bugeisha, who were taught and trained to defend their family and property, and Kunoichi, who were women who practiced ninjutsu.
Tomoe Gozen’s story is primarily detailed in a medieval epic titled The Tale of Heike. She was known for her beautiful and captivating appearance, with her charming features, long black hair, and white face.
She was said to have been a very skilled horseback rider, archer, and swordfighter. Legend has it that she was the foster sister of military leader Minamoto no Yoshinaka. Because of her close relationship with him, he made her an official officer, and she commanded thousands of soldiers.
Although she still faced backlash for her gender, Tomoe Gozen made tremendous feats, and one of her most notable battles was the Battle of Awazu in 1184, where she impressively defeated a major enemy, Uchida Ieyoshi.
Not only did Tomoe Gozen encourage other female warriors and lead hundreds of them into battle with her, but she also inspired other women to step up and take their place on the battlefield.
What happened to Tomoe Gozen during her later years is a bit blurry, as there are several different stories.