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Dec 05, 2013 (6)


There is some debate with Japanese historians whether or not the female warrior class of feudal Japan, the Onna-bugeisha, functioned in the way today’s popular culture currently portrays them. The more conservative view is that there might be two or three of isolated occasions when high-born women trained for and participated in warfare, but to say anything more would be pure poppycock dreamed up by wishful thinkers. I don’t personally buy that. The Onna-bugeisha were a real social class, much like their male counterpoint, the samurai, and as such to simply write them off speaks much more about the embedded sexism that is still found in those who call themselves historians than anything else. The Onna-bugeisha in this picture wears a mask of a fox (a trickster) and holds the long blade known as a naginata. Behind her is a folding screen depicting two of her ancestors practicing (or fighting, hard to know) using similar weapons.