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Images of Samurai Women

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Nakano Takeko
Nakano Takeko was killed in battle at the age of 21.

Nakano Takeko (1847-1868), leader of a female warrior corps during the Boshin War (1868-69).

via Wikipedia, public domain due to age

A third Aizu defender was Nakano Takeko (1847-1868), the daughter of another Aizu official. She was trained in the martial arts, and worked as an instructor during her late teens.

During the Battle of Aizu, Nakano Takeko led a corps of female samurai against the Emperor's forces. She fought with a naginata, the traditional weapon of preference for Japanese women warriors.

Takeko was leading a charge against the imperial troops when she took a bullet to her chest. Knowing that she would die, the 21-year-old warrior ordered her sister Yuko to cut off her head and save it from the enemy. Yuko did as she asked, and Nakano Takeko's head was buried under a tree at Hokaiji Temple.

The 1868 Meiji Restoration that resulted from the Emperor's triumph in the Boshin War marked the end of an era for the samurai. To the very end, though, samurai women like Nakano Takeko fought, won and died as bravely and as well their male counterparts.

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