Nakano Takeko, the woman warrior of Aizu
|Died||October 16, 1868 (aged 21)|
|Years of service||1868|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Aizu|
|Memorials||Nakano Takeko Monument |
Statue of Nakano Takeko
|Relations||Nakano Heinai (father) |
Nakano Toyomi (brother)
Nakano Yūko (sister)
Akaoka Daisuke (adoptive father)
Nakano, born in Edo, was the eldest daughter of Nakano Heinai, an Aizu official and his wife Takako. She was thoroughly trained in the martial and literary arts, and was adopted by her teacher Akaoka Daisuke (Tadayoshi). After working with her adoptive father as a martial arts instructor during the 1860s, Nakano entered Aizu for the first time in 1868.
During the Battle of Aizu, she fought with a naginata (a Japanese polearm) and was the leader of an ad hoc corps of female combatants who fought in the battle independently, as the senior Aizu retainers did not allow them to fight as an official part of the domain's army. This unit was later retroactively called the Jōshitai (娘子隊 Women's Army).
While leading a charge against Imperial Japanese Army troops of the Ōgaki Domain, she was fatally shot in the chest. Rather than let the enemy capture her head as a trophy, she asked her sister, Yūko, to cut it off and have it buried. It was taken to Hōkai Temple (in modern-day Aizubange, Fukushima) and buried under a pine tree.
Nakano had a kill count of 172 samurai.
During the annual Aizu Autumn Festival, a group of young girls wearing hakama and shiro headbands take part in the procession, commemorating the actions of Nakano and her band of women fighters of the Joshigun.
- Yamakawa Kenjirō; Munekawa Toraji (1926). Hoshū Aizu Byakkotai jūkyūshi-den. Wakamatsu: Aizu Chōrei Gikai. pp. 63–64.
- Hoshi Ryōichi (2006). Onnatachi no Aizusensō. Tokyo: Heibonsha. p. 80.
- Yamakawa Kenjirō; Munekawa Toraji (1926). Hoshū Aizu Byakkotai jūkyūshi-den. Wakamatsu: Aizu Chōrei Gikai. p. 69.
- Hoffman, Michael (October 9, 2011). "Women warriors of Japan". The Japan Times.
- Kincaid, Chris (August 9, 2015). "Japan's Warrior Women". Japan Powered. (incl. "The Women's Army – the Joshigun")
- Smithsonian Institution (2015). "Samurai Warrior Queens". Smithsonian Channel.
- Szczepanski, Kallie (April 1, 2017). "Images of Samurai Women". ThoughtCo.
- "The Last Woman Samurai". Womankind (# 3). February–April 2015.
- Samurai Warrior Queens TRAILER. Urban Canyons. YouTube.
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