In 1868, the Japanese civil war (AKA the Boshin War) between the Meiji regime and Tokugawa Shogunate was abruptly coming to end. The western-backed imperial faction was overpowering the Shogunate with powerful firearms that left many Samurai defenceless. Eventually, Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu surrendered but the war wasn't over yet. His loyalists refused to give in to the Meiji regime and fought across Japan despite being heavily overpowered. During this time, the Battle of Aizu took place between the Imperial and Shogunate factions. Leading a group of unlikely warriors named the Joshitai (Translated as Girls Army) onto the battlefield, was a courageous 21-year old Samurai. Her name was Nakano Takeko, this is her story.
The Life of Nakano Takeko
An image of the late warrior, Nakano Takeko (1847-1868)
It took many years for Nakano Tekeko to discover her blade of choice but you can find yours in a matter of minutes here, with our Sword Guide.
The Last Stand of the Samurai
Trained and ready to risk their lives for the honour of the Samurai tradition, Nakano led her army of 650 female soldiers to fight alongside the vastly outnumbered Shogunate faction. Initially, the leader of the faction was hesitant to let woman fight alongside his army but after Nakano threatened to disembowel him, he accepted the Joshitai's help. Although her army the Joshitai and their allies were losing the battle decisively, Nakano fought so gallantly eyewitnesses claimed they saw her kill 5 or 6 soldiers before succumbing to her injuries. Before she passed away, her younger sister Yuko held her in her arms while Nakano mumbled her final wish. True to the Samurai way, she wanted to be beheaded to ensure she didn't become a trophy. Yuko was so tired and traumatised another warrior named Ueno Yoshisaburo had to perform the beheading. She was able to escape with her sister's head and buried it under a tree at the Hokai-ji temple, a famous landmark in Fukushima, Japan.
Nakano Takeko's statue that stands at the Hokai-ji temple.
Despite suffering defeat in the Battle of Aizu, Nakano Takeko's legacy still lives on today through the statue that was erected near her burial site and iconic monument. Nakano's story is a great reminder that regardless of the odds, you should always make a stand for what you believe in.