Archive of European Projects

Samurai Warrior Queens
Start date: 12 Dec 2013, End date: 11 Jun 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The legends of the heroic Samurai seem to be an all-male affair; but for over 800 years, Samurai women stood their ground in one-on-one fights, open battles and castle sieges. Academic research from battlefield excavations by Tokyo University confirms that almost 30% of fighters were female; proving the existence of the Samurai warrior woman whose complete dedication and warrior prowess remains one of the world’s great untold stories.This drama documentary begins with the arrival of American and European gunboats in 1854, which forces Japan out of its self-imposed isolation. The growing Western influence (depicted by two European gun runners) splits the powerful Samurai clans into two warring factions.At the centre of the film is the real life story of the heroic Samurai woman Takeko Nakano who became a martial arts master, and in 1868 formed an all-female fighting unit to defend her clans’ independence in a final battle that marked the end of the Samurai era in Japan.Interviews with British historian Dr Stephen Turnbull, Eiko Ikegami and the Headmistress of one of the last original female martial arts schools in Japan support the amazing tale of courage, tragedy and endurance of the noble Samurai women. Re-enactments, battle CG animation, original costumes and historic locations bring Takeko’s story back to life.
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