Alexa Tomoe Gozen beginners of Japan women warriors

Tomoe Gozen beginners of Japan women warriors


Published: 23:08 11 September 2019  

File Photo

File Photo

There was a time in history when only men were involved in the war. The participation of women was very rare. But the women who used to take up arms were brave enough.

Women were fighting united with men. Sometimes a woman have seen more courageous than a man. Their tactics and leadership would have made the opponent a sudden surprise.

Like all nations in Japanat that time, men were normally involved in warfare. But in Japan from the twelfth century to the nineteenth century, men, as well as women, were taught to carry weapons.

They were usually trained to use swords and arrows so that they could protect their families during the war. Women used these weapons only when someone attacked their residence.

Tomoe Gozen was one of them who also learned everything, just like other women. However, Tomoe did not only confine herself to protecting homes like all women. She had become herself a legend on the battlefield.

Tomoe Gozen was first woman who introduced in the twelfth-century in literature, where her outstanding courage and leadership were highlighted in the Battle of Gempei (1180-1185). Tomoe was a samurai and her rank in the military was very high. Tomoe’s name was not found anywhere except that literature. There is a doubt about her birth and death still now. Here's how Tomoe Gozen is presented in the 'Tale of the Heike' -

"Tomoe’s had long dark hair; her face was seemly and beautiful. In beauty, she was fantabulous. She had great skill to manage a sharp horse or a low-lying ground.”

Thousands of enemies did nothing in front of her sword. Rather than she was able to face herself with devils! Where Tomoe stood, everything around would fall to her feet. Tomoe fought with the bravest captains and defeated them. Then she collected the defeated heads!

Tomoe Gozen is most remembered for her heroic and strong mentality in the Awuzu war which happened in 1184. When only 7 soldiers were alive, Tomoe was with them; who was still unwilling to back down."

Tomoe Gozen A samurai warrior

The samurai means 'who gives security'. Samurai have always been elite warriors in Japanese history. They emerged in the eleventh century primarily with the intention of serving the feudal kings. These kings were called 'daimyo' who were constantly involved in power struggles.

Daimyo began to associate the samurai with their own regards. The security and the secret operation of samurai became increased for the daimyo. In this way they also became stronger in face-to-face combat.

From the sixteenth century onwards, the social position of the samurai began to solidify. They were respectable in society and were always allowed to carry swords with themselves.

But within the samurais, almost everyone was male. The job of women was to marry, to raise children and to look after the houses. Their husbands would go to war and come back after the war as conquerors.

However, there were some women who received training in war or weapons. Many of them again had the same fate as other women. Because they could only carry weapons, and only use it to protect their families when the enemy was attacked.

But even out of this circle, some female samurai were able to join the battle with men in real life!

Long before the rise of the samurai, some women learned the tactics of war, who were able to save their families from the enemy. They were called ‘onna-bugeisha', which means female warriors.

These women warriors could carry Kaiken (short dagger) with them. Moreover, they also had a Naginata (half-moon sword), which once became part of their tradition.

The traditions of onna bugeisha also occupy the Samurai. Having a Naginata with samurai means she is a female warrior. It would blow up her glory. After marriage, some Naginata used to come with husband’s house as dowry. Tomoe Gozen was just like those women.

Legendary Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen is considered one of the most vicious women warriors in Japanese history. But what is known about her, is mostly part of literature and folklore. It is difficult to know the real identity in these circumstances.

What reliance it is the name 'Tomoe Gozen' is not a duplicate. The name 'Tomoe’ because of the shape of her shoulders and 'Gozen' is a designation of honoring the female warriors.

Tomoe Gozen, who was raised in the literature, was a high-ranking employee of General Minimoto Yoshinaka, according to many, she was his wife. Yoshinaka had many victories in the Battle of Gempai between 1180 to 1185 with the help of Tomoe Gozen.

But Yoshinaka was defeated with the conflict of family members and escaped from the capital, Kyoto. At the time of his escaping, he was accompanied by some soldiers, including Tomoe.

In another story it is said that when the Yoshinaka forces were defeated, they decided to flee. Immediately before his escaping, Tomoe Gozen quickly killed two generals of the opposition camp. One is General Hatakeyama and the other is General Uchida.

The surprise attack led their forces to do nothing Tomoe. She was able to escape.

It is also heard that as a general, Yoshinaka would be ashamed to die in front of a female warrior (in that society, in the hands of women or in front of a woman, there was cowardice).

Another statement in the 'Tale of the Heike' states that Tomoe did not obey the orders of Generals. Rather, she wants permission from general to bring the important head of the enemy camp.

At that time, a fateful group of enemies was approaching to capture the General. But the whole small group gets annihilated from Tomoe's vicious attack. After cutting the head of leader of the enemy groups, she brings up the head in front of General Yoshinaka.

It is arguable what happened to her fate in the aftermath of the war. People have never lost interest in Tomoe.

Rather, some branches of the story continue to grow. It is said that Tomoe Gozen was 28 years old when she escaped from war and spent the rest of her life as a monk of Buddhism. She died at the age of 90.

In another story, Tomoe Gozen was captured at the end of the war and married to the enemy camp's General Wada Yoshimura. After marriage Tomoe passed rest of her life as a mistress of Yoshimura.

Recently, American author Jessica Salmonson wrote a fantasy trilogy called 'Tomoe Gozen Saga' about Tomoe. Also featured in the mini-TV series is Tomoe Gozen in 2010.

Whatever happened to the fate of Tomoe Gozen, whatever it is real or folk story, Tomoe Gozen was able to take the heart of people. A terrifying woman warrior who lost in the game of fate and came down from heaven! Tomoe Gozen is an invaluable asset in the world of folklore. She will alive in people's minds for centuries.