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Images of Samurai Women


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Genpei War-Era Faux Samurai Woman
Print by Kiyonaga Torii, c. 1785 to 1789.

Print of Minamoto Yoshitsune, wearing feminine clothing but sporting the two swords of a samurai, standing beside legendary fighting monk Saito Benkei.

Library of Congress Prints Collection

Some depictions of what appear to be samurai women are actually illustrations of beautiful men, such as this Kiyonaga Torii drawing from 1785-1789.

The "lady" shown here wears a long veil and civilian clothing over lacquered armor. According to Dr. Roberta Strippoli of Binghamton University, this actually is not a female, but the famously pretty male samurai Minamoto Yoshitsune.

The man next to him, kneeling to adjust his shoe, is the legendary warrior/monk Saito Musashibo Benkei (c. 1155-1189). He is famed for his half-human, half-demon parentage and his incredibly ugly features, as well as his prowess as a warrior. Yoshitsune defeated Benkei in hand-to-hand combat, after which they became fast friends and allies. The two died together at the Siege of Koromogawa in 1189.

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