Heroic with Grace: Legendary Women of Japan

Heroic with Grace: Legendary Women of Japan

Heroic with Grace: Legendary Women of Japan

Heroic with Grace: Legendary Women of Japan


This work presents the lives and times of eight prominent Japanese women who epitomize the tragedies and triumphs of eight characteristically female roles. In examining the lives of the mythological Empress Jingu, Jito Tenno (645-702), Murasaki Shikibu (970s-1000s), Tomoe Gozen (12th century), Hojo Masako (1157-1225), Hani Motoko (1873-1957), Takamine Hideko (b.1924) and Ariyoshi Sawako (1931-1984), the contributors provide a mosaic of Japanese history and culture that encompasses issues of women's status in various stages of Japanese history, the social climate conducive to positive female roles, the concept of Japanese womanhood in relation to the male hero types of each age and the popular need for strong female figures.


This book presents the lives and times of eight prominent women who epitomized the joys and sorrows of being female in Japan. The scope of selection is inevitably limited by the availability and manageability of source materials as well as the specialties and scholarly interest of the coauthors. Each woman subject has been chosen according to four criteria: (1) she is well documented in historical records or literary works; (2) she made some positive and constructive impact on her time and Japan's history; (3) her significant achievements were made primarily in a typically female role; and (4) her causes thrived into the future, unlike the lost causes that Japan's popular male heroes tended to serve.

By no means isolated, unusual cases born of freakish twists of fate or preternatural strength, these are the best-known representatives of many women who exerted their influence on society, people, and nation far beyond the familial sphere. They are not heroes who happened to be female nor who renounced their female identity in defiance to bravely enter the male domain in pursuit of success and power. Rather, their feminine identity was an essential factor in most of their contributions significant enough to alter or shape the course of Japan's history.

Starting with the "oldest profession" in Japan, the shamaness-priestess, the list includes eight of the respected and influential roles in which Japanese women were able to test the limit of feminine potentials and fill the needs of particular times and social conditions as only females could. Each chapter provides the historical background and sociopolitical perspectives necessary for understanding how and why some women found themselves placed in such supreme positions as emperor and acting shogun, fully expected to wield the power attendant to the title.

The book covers the entire chronological span of Japan's history, but each chapter is put into whatever form is most suitable or relevant . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.