Guest Author - Joy Alari
Most often with tales surrounding the Samurai, the males always take the lead but there were some women, who fought just as bravely and as valiantly, as their male counter parts, one such female Samurai of note is Tomoe Gozen.
Tomoe Gozen was said to have being born, within or around the year 1157 and in Japanese standards, Tomoe Gozen was said to be very pretty, with fair skin as well as long beautiful hair.
Tomoe Gozen was in love with Minamoto Yoshinaka, who was also enamoured with her, Minamoto Yoshinaka was a high level lord, from the Minamoto clan, Tomoe Gozen eventually became his favorite concubine.
Tomoe Gozen was an excellent horse woman, it was said that she could tame any ill tempered horse, she was also greatly skilled in the use of the naginata, which is a long staff with a curved blade at one end, Tomoe Gozen beheaded many enemies with this weapon, she didn’t believe in staying behind in battles, Tomoe Gozen was always at the fore front of any battle line.
Tomoe Gozen was also skilled, in the use of the bow and arrow, it was said that she was astute and intelligent, these skills so endeared her to Minamoto Yoshinaka and though he tried to protect her, Tomoe Gozen didn't want to be regarded as just a woman, she preferred to be viewed as a warrior.
Tomoe Gozen further believed that, she was more useful on the battle field, where she could put her soldierly skills, to good use for Minamoto Yoshinaka, especially with gathering intelligence.
Minamoto Yoshinaka had to give in to her request and so Tomoe Gozen, was sent on many dangerous scout missions and was successful in most of them, she also fought many battles for him.
There are contradictory reports, of what happened to Tomoe Gozen, especially after the battle of Awazu, in which her Lord Minamoto Yoshinaka died, some say Tomoe Gozen later married a rival warrior called Wada Yoshimori, others say Tomoe Gozen gave up the sword and the life of fighting, some also add that Tomoe Gozen, took the vow of chastity and became a nun.
Well most insist that, after the death of Minamoto Yoshinaka, Tomoe Gozen was heart broken and charged with the rest of his soldiers, but the combined forces of Minamoto no Yoshihira and his cousins, was too much for them. It was said that Tomoe Gozen felled many enemies before she died.
But what can not be disputed, is the courage and valor of this 12th century woman, Tomoe Gozen was a real hero, she died for truth as well as love, her many battle exploits, helped Minamoto Yoshinaka gain victory, even if they were only temporary, these battles are the vivid exploits, of this courageous Japanese female Samurai.
The chronicles of Heike Monogatari sings the praises of Tomoe Gozen, and a memorial has also being erected, at the Shiga Prefecture for Tomoe Gozen, till date the tale of Tomoe Gozen, is still very popular in Japan, its being featured in many fiction novels, films, anime manga, as well as video games.