EnglishFrenchJapaneseKorean
Powered by Translate
Stay in the Loop: (newsletter signup form)

Tomoe Gozen- historical note

General discussion (non-Usagi Yojimbo related) about all things Japan -- Feudal Japan, Samurai, Ninjas, Anime & Manga, Chambara films, Japanese Pop Culture, Otaku, martial arts, history, sushi, giant robots, Godzilla... anything Japan-related!

Moderators: Steve Hubbell, Mayhem, Moderators

Tomoe Gozen- historical note

Postby Sophie » Sat Mar 22, 2003 22:58 +0000

As I recently did quite a lot of university research into medieval Japanese martial women, of whom Tomoe is the best known, I thought you may be interested to know a little more then you included in your brief reference. Firstly, Tomoe was not in any sence married to Yoshinaka. She was his foster sister, the daughter of his wet-nurse, and although they may have developed a sexual relationship this was certainly not official. It is a moving testement to the strength of the foster relationship that Tomoe and her brothers were the only ones to stand by Yoshinaka towards the end. It has been speculated that Tomoe bacame a nun, but actually no-one knows what happened to her. Also I must contradict your interpritation of Gozen. The experts are divided over its meaning, but in Tomoe's case the most plausible theory I read was that it had become attached to her name by reverse association (as female storytellers are Gozen, and Tomoe's story was widely told). It is interesting that almost all of the warrior women from the period were titled Gozen, although few were married and some were peasants.
Although she is best know for her naginata (the element to the story focused on by Solmondson in the titles to her books), her fameous kills were all with sword or tanto (dagger). From paintings and the detailed descriptions of her technique in primary texts, it has been concluded that her style was a forerunner of modern Judo. She saved Yoshinaka's life more than once, and bought him time to retire for his seppaku ceremony. Her opponents were so fazed at the prospect of fighting a women that she had little trouble fighting seven samurai at once. When Yoshinaka refused her permition to die with him, she challenged the leader of the enemy unit to a duel and beheaded him, to prove her worth to Yoshinaka.
The Gempei war was filled with fighting women, female generals and even Masaki Hojo, the ama-Shogun. Many of their stories are tragic as well as heroic, and I am sad that more people aren't aware of this side of Japanese history. Salmondson takes many liberties with history, as she can under the genre of fantasy, but the biggest deviation is her dipiction of Tomoe as a tough, independent woman. I wouldn't challenge her toughness, but despite their abilities, all women warriors were still deeply subservient to their lord, something central to samurai culture and women warriors were if anything more bound by it then men, not feminist exceptions.
Sophie
 

Postby ziritrion » Sun Mar 23, 2003 6:28 +0000

Interesting. Thank you very much for the info. However, could you tell us more about Masaki Hojo, the ama-Shogun, or at least point out where to find more info about her? I have never heard about her, and she sounds like an amazing person (a female shogun? That's a must-see!)
(\ /)
(O.o)
(> <)
This is Bunny. Copy Bunny into your signature to help him on his way to world domination.
User avatar
ziritrion
Hatamoto<Special Retainer>
 
Posts: 617
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 7:46 +0000
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Postby Stan Sakai » Sun Mar 23, 2003 9:28 +0000

Thank you, Sophie. I agree that not enough has been written about Tomoe Gozen. I did not know that she was the daughter of Kiso's wet-nurse. She was his consort, and never married. I generally use the term "married" because most of my presentations are given to lower grade level students and I don't want to have to explain relationships and customs to them. Though the Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan does have them married.

I got the feeling that "gozen" was a kind of honorific suffix for a lady. I have seen it in reference to other nobles as well.

There are differing stories as to what became of her. I prefer that she became a nun, mainly because that's such a contrast to her previous life and usually draws a chuckle from the audience. Another story has her defeated by Wada Yoshimori to whom she became a mistress.

The research I have posts the Ama-Shogun as Masako Hojo (1157-1225). She was married to Yoritomo Minamoto and bore two children. After the death of Yoritomo, she shaved her head and became a Buddhist nun (ama), but led the country in her son's name. When her son Sanetomo was assassinated, two year old Fujiwara Yoritsune became shogun though, in reality, she and her brother continued to rule.
User avatar
Stan Sakai
Sensei
 
Posts: 4768
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2002 12:21 +0000

Postby ziritrion » Sun Mar 23, 2003 10:19 +0000

Thank you very much again for the info, Mr. Sakai! :)
(\ /)
(O.o)
(> <)
This is Bunny. Copy Bunny into your signature to help him on his way to world domination.
User avatar
ziritrion
Hatamoto<Special Retainer>
 
Posts: 617
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 7:46 +0000
Location: Barcelona, Spain


Return to 日本の話題 - All Things Japan!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest