Tomoe Gozen

Female Samurai

Tomoe Gozen (巴 御前, about 1157–1247) was a female samurai who lived in Japan.

Tomoe Gozen, a drawing by Shitomi Kangetsu (born 1747 – died 1797)

When Tomoe Gozen was a girl who was taught the skills of an upper-class Japanese woman: writing, musical theatre, archery, horseback riding and fencing. She became a skilled horseman and brave warrior.[1] She became a concubine of Minamoto no Yoshinaka when she was a teenager.

When Tomoe Gozen was about 28 years old, she fought in the Gempei War (1180–1185). In the Battle of Awazu (February 1184), Minamoto no Yoshinaka was killed by his cousin Yoritomo. Tomoe's reaction to this is not really known. Some people have theories about what might have happened to her. Some think she may have fled from the Gempei War or she may have continued fighting after his death. She also might have been asked to go by Yoshinaka (who believed that his honor would be destroyed if he was killed by a woman) when he realized he would be killed.

After this time, historians do not know what happened. Yoritomo's friend Yoshimori forced Tomoe to marry him. But Yoshinori died before Tomoe gave birth to a son. According to legend, their son was Asahina Yoshihide. He grew up to be a famous samurai. Tomoe joined a nunnery, where she stayed for the rest of her life. Today, Tomoe Gozen is a role model for many Japanese women.[2]



  1. Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). "Tomoe Gozen" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 984, at Google Books, p. 984
  2. Stockdale, Nancy. "Tomoe Gozen." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.

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