Female warrior in 12th century Japan: Tomoe Gozen and art 

Female warrior in 12th century Japan: Tomoe Gozen and art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Twelfth-century Japan witnessed new power dynamics with the ending of the Heian Period (794-1185). However, for female warriors, including Tomoe Gozen, it highlights the military prowess of women in distant history. Therefore, female warriors – including Tomoe Gozen – would become depicted in Japanese art for their military skills in the art form of ukiyo-e. 

Tomoe Gozen is depicted strongly for her loyalty and virtue through the prism of art during the Edo Period. Hence, long before the Edo Period (1603 and was replaced by the Meiji Restoration 1868)began, she was portrayed fondly in literature and folklore. 

The Toshidama Gallery says, “Tomoe was an onna-bugeisha, a type of female warrior, although it is misleading to call them female samurai. Prior to the late Edo period it was common for women to fight alongside men in battle and in the defence of communities. This role is greatly at odds with contemporary positions of women in Japanese society and does not chime with western ideas of compliant Japanese females.”

Female warriors were common long before Tomoe Gozen. However, her historical significance and steadfastness won her deep admiration long after she passed away from this earth. 

Females were taught various aspects of the art of war. Hence, weapons were matched appropriately before training began concerning body weight, height, the structure of each person, and speed. Weapons used relates to naginata and kaiken (dual purpose). Therefore, females were taught the fighting art of tantojutsu – which concerns various systems of knife fighting.

The Walters Art Museum – in the art piece above – says, “The beautiful and courageous Tomoe Gozen triumphantly rears back on her horse after severing the head of her enemy Morishige. As the warrior-mistress of the Genji leader Yoshinaka, she had fought many battles at his side, but this one, at Uji River (1184), was to be her last. It is said that following Yoshinaka’s death Tomoe became a nun.”

https://art.thewalters.org/detail/40014/gempei-seisuki/

http://www.toshidama-japanese-prints.com/item_368/Kuniyoshi-Tomoye-gozen-struggling-with-Musashi-Saburoemon-Arikuni.htm

PLEASE DONATE TO HELP MODERN TOKYO TIMES 

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

DONATIONS to SUPPORT MODERN TOKYO TIMES – please pay PayPal and DONATE to sawakoart@gmail.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com Modern Tokyo Times – International News and Japan News

http://sawakoart.com – Sawako Utsumi personal website and Modern Tokyo Times artist

https://moderntokyonews.com Modern Tokyo News – Tokyo News and International News

PLEASE JOIN ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/MTT_News Modern Tokyo Times

PLEASE JOIN ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/moderntokyotimes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.