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Images of Samurai Women


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Yamakawa Futaba
Photo of female warrior Yamakawa Futaba later in life.

Yamakawa Futaba (1844-1909), who fought to defend Tsuruga Castle in the Boshin War (1868-69).

via Wikipedia, public domain due to age.

The Genpei War of the late 12th century seemed to inspire many female warriors to join in the fight. More recently, the Boshin War (1868-69) also witnessed the fighting spirit of Japan's samurai-class women.

The Boshin War:

The Boshin War was another civil war, pitting the ruling Tokugawa shogunate against those who wanted to return real political power to the emperor. The young Meiji Emperor had the support of the powerful Choshu and Satsuma clans, who had far fewer troops than the shogun, but more modern weaponry.

After heavy fighting on land and at sea, the shogun abdicated and the shogunate military minister surrendered Edo (Tokyo) in May of 1868. Nevertheless, shogunate forces in the north of the country held out for many months more. One of the most important battles against the Meiji Restoration movement, which featured several female warriors, was the Battle of Aizu (October and November 1868).

After a month-long siege, the Aizu region surrendered. Its samurai were sent to prisoner of war camps, and the domain was divided up and redistributed to imperial loyalists.

Yamakawa Futaba, 1844-1909

As the daughter and the wife of shogunate officials in Aizu, Yamakawa Futaba was trained to fight. She participated in the defense of Tsuruga Castle against the Emperor's forces. When the castle's defenses were breached, many of the defenders committed seppuku.

Yamakawa Futaba survived, and went on to lead the drive for improved education for women and girls in Japan.

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