The legends of the Samurai seem to be an all-male affair; but contrary to popular belief, Samurai women stood their ground in countless battles and castle sieges. The drama documentary tells the true story of Samurai woman Takeko Nakano who fights for her clans’ independence in a final battle that marks the end of the Samurai era. In 1853, 6 year old Takeko starts her formal Samurai education and relentless martial arts training in Edo, when the arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry and his American gunboats changes the isolated country forever. Ten years later, Takeko becomes one of the youngest martial arts masters. She receives a personal dagger as a rite of passage from her mother and refuses her masters marriage proposal. Instead she prepares her students for war. The growing Western influence splits the powerful Samurai clans into two warring factions. In 1868, Takeko, her sister and mother write their death poems and cut their hair in the tradition of the male Samurai. The next day, Takeko leads a group of young Aizu Samurai women against the modern rifle regiments of the Emperor’s army. Recent archaeological investigations show that women played a crucial role in Samurai warfare, proving the existence of the Samurai warrior woman whose complete dedication and extensive suffering remains one of the world’s great untold stories. In today’s martial arts schools, the spirit of Japan’s female warriors continues to thrive. Interviews with Eiko Yokokura from the Aizu Naginata League in Wakamatsu in Fukushima Province (where Takeko died in battle), female Osaka based head of a traditional martial arts school Midori Tanaka, American curator Jessica L. Beasley from The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum (Dallas), Natasha Bennett, Curator of the Royal Armouries in Leeds (UK), British author and martial arts expert Antony Cummins, and Japanese Archaeological Curator Hiroatsu Suzuki who examines Samurai battle fields. The film features dramatic re-enactments, CG animation, historically accurate costumes and original locations in Shiga Province bring Takeko’s amazing story back to life.
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