The picture above is a vintage photograph of an onna-bugeisha, one of the female warriors of the upper social classes in feudal Japan.
Often mistakenly referred to as “female samurai”, female warriors have a long history in Japan, beginning long before samurai emerged as a warrior class. However, they did fight alongside of samurai warriors. They were wives, widows and daughters who answered the call of duty to protect their families, households and honor in times of war.
Onna Bugeisha were the exception, rather than the rule, but they still played an important role nonetheless. One famous example is empress Jingu, who reportedly lead a successful conquest against Korea in 200 AD without shedding a single drop of blood (or so the legends say).