Going a Viking

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The latest special exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is Vikings: Beyond the Legend.  I was looking forward to seeing it.  When I first began researching different cultures for my book, I had no idea where to begin.  I visited the children’s non-fiction section of my local library and pulled off the shelf every cultural and historical book that looked remotely interesting.  I remember reading a few books on Vikings but, as my attention was quickly diverted to the cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean, my reading on Vikings quickly fell by the wayside.  I was looking forward to re-acquainting myself with them.

I began said re-acquaintance by attending a lecture at the museum before purchasing a ticket to the exhibit.  The lecture assured me I would see the Vikings in a new light; show me proof they were much more than raiders and killers portrayed by history.  Maps shown at the lecture did make me aware that Viking ships made it far further into various lands than I knew and that was interesting.  However, as another slide showed archaeological evidence that victims of a raid had been neatly buried in one mound with all their heads neatly buried in one adjacent, the lecture didn’t do much to dispel the raider image.  I had hopes the exhibit would do a better job.

It did.  The artifacts on display are incredible.  I learned Viking culture was so much more than swords and raids.  Metallurgy did involve the forging of swords but it also resulted in fabulous jewelry the intricacy of which, the exhibit tells me, is almost impossible to replicate today.

I was able to see Viking ingenuity at work in the inner workings of a lock.  The spring mechanism, activated by pressure from the teeth of a key, was brilliant.  I wish I had been able to get a photo of it.  The exhibit did tell me that the penalty for theft where the goods had been locked away was higher than if they had not.  An interesting facet of law.

The role of women in Viking culture interested me.  I had always thought that only men went a viking but, apparently, this isn’t so.  Women too, went on these travels.  Women had a great deal of authority in the home, more so than most other women of their day, and this role and power as household manager is symbolized with the keys found in some burials of women.

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Of course, Viking raids did definitely happen and were brutal.  And yet, the Vikings were also accomplished traders, dealing in goods as far away as China.  There was a replica of a Buddha found in a burial but, try as I might, I couldn’t get a clear photo of it.  I did manage to get a picture of a glass beaker, something I would have thought would be unheard of in Viking lands.

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One last observation: I took a photo of this blurb from the exhibit.

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That struck me.  In my reading, I learned that some Viking colonies had been abandoned, presumably because of a lack of natural resources.  This understanding and resiliency showed me how truly multi-faceted Viking culture really was.

I left the exhibit with a desire to know more and I decided to go straight to the source.  What did the Vikings have to say about themselves?  To find out, I purchased The Sagas of the Icelanders from the gift shop.  I look forward to reading it and learning more about this fascinating culture.

A caveat:

I googled tips for taking photos in a museum and did try to put them to good use but I still have a long way to go. 🙂

 

 

 

Developing My Writing Brain

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I would love to be a word genius: stories spilling out of my brain with no need for editing or grammar checks.  That’s not how my writing process goes, unfortunately, so I do a great deal of reading.  Reading is my favorite thing and, among the amazing fiction I read for fun and the history I read for research (and fun), I also read about writing.  Some of the books I read are craft and others are writers writing about writing.  Most I read and put back on my shelf but I just finished a book I thought worthy of mention: Fire Up Your Writing Brain by Susan Reynolds.

This book doesn’t cover craft-not really.  Rather, the book contains tips and tricks derived from neuroscience to take what I already know as a writer and make it work more efficiently.  This is a book I’ll have to study and my favorite part were the quotes included from different writers.

There were three things I read on my first pass through this book that stayed with me:

First, a little blurb about Mark Zuckerberg was included stating he buys multiples of the same shirt in order to minimize how many decisions he makes in a day.  He’s quoted as saying; “There’s a bunch of psychological theory that even making small decisions about what you wear, what you eat for breakfast, etc., can make you tired.” (Fire Up Your Writing Brain, page 162).  The TBI I sustained in my car accident years ago means it’s easy for my brain to get overwhelmed.  Planning my meals, multi-tasking at my job, researching, writing my manuscript, posting to my blogs…it can get difficult for me to keep it all straight.  This quote struck me.  I’ve already been looking for ways to simplify my life and reading this has caused me to make doing so a priority.

Two, no one is perfect and yet I keep expecting my writing to be so.  The section entitled “Your Expectations Are Too High” on page 194 spoke to me.  In it, Ms. Reynolds states “The best advice anyone can give inexperienced writers is to write a first draft as quickly as possible, as good books are not written, but rewritten and rewritten and rewritten.”  This is something I’ve heard many times from many sources but perhaps, this time, I was ready not just to hear it but take it to heart.  I finished a first draft years ago: all 611 pages of it.  It’s been whittling and paring and cutting that mass of research and character background into something more readable that’s been a problem.  I have difficulty not tweaking this, re-writing that, what if this, and would it be better if… What Ms. Reynolds’ book is helped me realize is it’s still too early in my process to expect perfection.  I need to turn off my editing brain for a while. Easier said than done but I’m pushing through.

Three, it’s important to have a writing space.  I’m fortunate to have an office downstairs where all my books are neatly on their shelves, I have a desk, a comfy chair, and a place to put my feet.  While simplifying my life, parts of my office have become a dump site for papers I have to scan before I can shred, blank cards I have yet to fill out and send to friends and family, and other detritus I’m can’t throw away before I look at it.  Writing in this room feels different than writing anywhere else in the house.  Because of my books?  I can’t really say.  However, I need to get the room organized so I can work there without feeling anxious about mess.  This too is now a priority.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.  The information in it is bound to be more useful than I yet realize.  This is one that definitely goes on my bookshelf; just as soon as I get the shelf dusted and sorted.

The Good Old Wintertime

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It’s still winter according to the calendar but snowy days have been few and far between here in Colorado.  I need some cold days because my cookie recipes are stacking up but I can’t complain too much: cold weather makes me feel old and creaky.  On really cold days, I entertain myself by thinking of seeking warmer climes but I’d miss winter.

I like snowy days.  Every sound is muffled and the world is quieter, stiller, than usual.  At least, I like them when I’m inside and warm.  I remember one time when I wasn’t much of a fan of cold and winter.

My dad had taken a job as foreman on a ranch and moved us north.  My brother and I were excited to be living on a ranch and were sure we’d each be able to have a horse.  It was the dead of winter and, practically the moment we arrived, the pipes in the house froze.  I don’t remember much of that time other than the bitter cold.  I do remember being put to bed with so many blankets and coats I could barely move.  I woke up on the third morning after our arrival to the sound of my mother packing our boxes and we were gone.  That was the coldest I ever remember being and the shortest I ever lived in one place.

Usually though, I like snow.  I like watching the flakes fall, I like the feeling of isolation.  I used to like hiking in the snow, though I don’t do much of that now.  All other sounds are muffled and the crunch of snow under my boots, the creaking of branches, and the occasional drop of snow to the ground all are inordinately loud.  Even when with other people, hiking in the snow made me feel alone.  I always felt more in touch with my own breath outdoors in the snow-perhaps the act of drawing the cold into my lungs-and even my thoughts seem to move more slowly.

I once tried to capture this feeling in poetry.  I wrote the included poem for my English class while at University and it’s one of my earliest attempts at word painting.  It’s been years but I remember my classmates liked it.  I hope you’ll feel the same.

One With Winter

It was a moment I will always remember

I stepped out of the trees

And a magnificent sight lay before me

A fresh snowfall covered the meadow

Beautiful, unmarred, soft, covered in a thin shell

The light from the moon sparkled like diamonds

All around me was silence-no movement for miles

There was only the fog I created as I breathed.

The coldness of Winter was in the air

It caressed my face, my lips

Winter found a kindred spirit in me

It entered my skin, my blood, my bones

And we were one.

As Winter I felt such peace-such nothingness

I was the ice in the air and the snow expansive before me

Beautiful, still, cold

I let myself sink into the heart of Winter

Until I was becoming lost in the cold

And had to fight my way back to myself

I took care as I walked around the meadow

Reluctant to mar the beauty I had enjoyed.

I returned the next day

To see my snow covered meadow but the snow was no longer there

It had melted-submitted-to the loving warmth of the sun.

 

The featured photo on this post was taken at Wolf Creek by a friend/co-worker.  My thanks to him for the loan.

As Long As There Are Mummies

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I didn’t realize two months have passed since my last post.  I’ve been busy with adjusted hours at work and my manuscript.  I intend to post something interesting but I get busy and blogging is the one thing that falls behind.  Still, I do look up from my keyboard and manuscript from time to time and get myself out of the house.  My last outing was to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where I caught the Mummies: New Secrets From the Tombs exhibit.  I’m always willing to make a special trip if mummies are involved.

This exhibit, while not extensive, was fascinating.  Egyptian and Peruvian cultures were covered by the exhibit and I tried to take as many interesting photos as I could.  I’ve never photographed an exhibit before and the biggest takeaway for me was…I need practice.  Fortunately, another special exhibit on Vikings is on its way to the museum.  Until then, here are photos from my first attempt at photographing exhibits.

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The Carved Inside of an Egyptian Wood Coffin

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Canopic Jars

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A Rather Interesting Sarcophagus from the Roman Era

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A Fabulous Painted Coffin-My Photo Definitely Doesn’t Do It Justice

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Pots Made to Resemble Cats

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Diorama of a Peruvian Burial Site

 

Not the best photos, I know, but I hope you can tell how amazing the exhibit was.  I did manage to get my name spelled out in heiroglyphs so I now have my own cartouche (the featured image at the top of this post).  An exhibit well worth attending.  I’ll work on my technique in preparation for the next one.

Happy 2017, Everybody!

 

Best News I’ve Heard All Year

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Happy National Chocolate Candy Day!    In honor of such a special day, I thought I’d share some news I recently heard with all of you.  Dark chocolate, that amazing substance touted for its level of antioxidants, ability to lift mood, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health, now can be your go to substance if you have a cough.  Where did I hear this?  Well…

…I am a T-Tapper.  T-Tapp is an exercise program developed by Teresa Tapp (hence the moniker) and I like it because I do feel it lives up to its purpose by putting my body in linear alignment and it gets my heart rate up in a 15 to 20 minute workout.  Interested in learning more?  Check out the website here.  As a T-Tapper, I am also a subscriber to the newsletter.  In the December issue, Teresa Tapp mentioned a study stating dark chocolate contains theobromine which can have a suppression affect on persistent coughs.

I headed to Google on my own and found some articles referencing the study.  Theobromine, a substance found in cocoa, had a better effect calming coughs than codeine without any harmful effects on the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.  Great news, right?  Well, perhaps not.

Participants found their coughs returned once they stopped taking theobromine.  Also, I found an article that states 1,000 mg of theobromine were used in the study and one ounce of unsweetened dark chocolate only contains 450 mg.  An entire bar of chocolate would have to be eaten per day in order to have the same effect.  That’s a lot of chocolate to eat and neither my waistline nor my pocketbook would thank me.  Still, the research is interesting.

I’m partial to Theo, Endangered Species, Dagoba, and Equal Exchange Chocolates brands and am always looking for other fair-trade non-dairy options.  Now, I have another scientific reason to do so!

 

Articles I looked at:

BBC News

Every Day Health

Authority Nutrition

 

Making Art From Trash

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The beginning of November in Colorado was lovely and so, one sunny Saturday, I paid money to look at trash.  Beach trash.  Or, at least, beach plastic.  The Washed Ashore Exhibit is available for viewing at The Denver Zoo and I badly wanted to see it.  If anyone lives in the area or the Exhibit is coming to a location near you, I encourage seeing it for two reasons.

Reason One: The Exhibit is fun and interesting considered as mere works of art.  I don’t have the sort of mind that looks at discarded water bottles, chairs, tires, boots, flip-flops, shotgun shells, pop cans, random toys, and toilet seats and sees animal sculptures.  How all of this trash is turned into sculptures complete with waves, sea plants, and reefs is beyond me and I had great fun seeing how all the different objects came together to create animals like sharks, penguins, and jellyfish.

Reason Two:  I’ve lived in landlocked states most of my life, barring a University stint in Juneau Alaska, but have always loved the ocean.  I had dreams of being a Marine Biologist and, while that didn’t work out, I’ve never stopped caring about the oceans and its creatures.  The plastic soup swirling in ocean gyres, being eaten by the inhabitants of the oceans, and being dumped on the beaches horrifies me.  The Exhibit exists because volunteers pick up marine debris from beaches and the objects are then recycled into art that’s both fun to look at but helps bring awareness to a massive problem.

According to Washedashore.org, over 60 sculptures have been created and 38,000 pounds of marine debris has been processed.  38,000 pounds of garbage.  The number boggles the mind, especially when I realize that 38,000 pounds comprises a tiny part of the estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste entering the ocean from land EACH YEAR! (World Economic Forum, January 2016)  Even if that number isn’t accurate, half that would be overwhelming and I’m so grateful to volunteers who partner with organizations like Washed Ashore to do something about it.  Washed Ashore promises small actions make a difference and there are tips for reducing consumption of plastic at every sculpture.

These tips are so easy to incorporate into daily life.  I don’t use single use plastic water bottles if I can help it.  I have stainless steel water bottles with lids that screw tight for hiking and a glass water bottle I use daily while at work.  A bonus to using a glass water bottle is that doing so gets me up out of my office chair as I have to walk half the length of the building to re-fill it.  Good for the environment and my cardiac health.  I’ve found there’s no need to purchase water while on road trips.  No gas station has ever complained about my refilling my water bottle with ice and water from the soda machine and there’s always a basket of fruit where I can purchase a banana or an orange so I don’t feel like I’m taking advantage.  If I have to purchase a bottle of water, I keep a bag in the car to put the plastic in until I can find a recycling center.

My family and I use fabric bags when grocery shopping.  We also watch our shopping habits so we reduce the amount of packaging included with our purchases.  I admit that can sometimes be an inconvenience when I don’t buy a product I need because of packaging-why do I need individual bags of vegetables inside another bag?-but I think the inconvenience is worth it.

The Exhibit is both fun and educational while managing to create beauty from objects that are anything but.  I found it encouraging as well.  I’m not alone in caring about what happens to our oceans and beaches and, together, we can make a difference.

To see the photos I took at the Exhibit, check out my Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk in the Park

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A friend came out for a visit a few weeks ago and we celebrated beautiful weather in Colorado by spending the day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This day, we turned left rather than heading straight into the park and visited Bear Lake.

My friend is a low lander and made some comments about my state not having enough air.  My family and I plied her with water and warnings not to ignore any feelings of dizziness then, as my friend was game for hiking, headed to the lake.

Bear Lake was well worth the stop.  It’s a beautiful place.  When my friend and I visited, the sun sparkled on the water, the sky was clear overhead, and a pair of ducks sought sustenance.  My friend asked if Bear Lake was called “Bear Lake” because it was shaped like a bear’s paw and I had to tell her I didn’t know.  A bit of research on Google led me to this blog post where I learned that the grandfather of a woman named Sally Ferguson shot at and missed a bear while hunting in the area in 1912 and that’s how the lake earned it’s name.  Now I know.  There’s a great deal of information on the History of Bear Lake in the post: I encourage you to check it out.

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Bear Lake

Bear Lake isn’t far from the parking lot so my friend felt up for a hike.  I’ll hike whenever I get the chance so I was chomping at the proverbial bit to get onto a trail.  There’s a lovely walk around the lake but we weren’t far from the trail to Alberta Falls.  My friend said she’d never seen a waterfall before and thought she was up for the hike.  My family was content to entertain themselves and the two of us started off.

Hiking with my friend was an experience I’ll ever forget and probably the most fun hiking I’ve ever had.  The two of us giggled over the fact she was hiking in designer jeans, Pumas and carrying a Coach bag slung over her shoulder.  I looked like I’d crawled out of the bushes by comparison.  We laughed, snapped photos, and took breathing breaks all the way to Alberta Falls.

I resorted to Google again to satisfy  my own curiosity about the naming of Alberta Falls and found I liked this website best.  The hike isn’t difficult.  There is an increase in elevation once Bear Lake is left but the incline isn’t ever too intense and the trail is well maintained.  There are bridges that add some fun to a basic trail and stones to prevent tumbling head long into a ravine.  (I had to be kept from falling to my death in search of a photo; my friend is much more level-headed)  The hike up to the falls took about an hour and, when we finally reached them, my friend said the hike was well worth it.  She rested for a bit while I had a grand time crawling around on rocks in search of the best waterfall picture.

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Alberta Falls

It was a glorious day.  Not only did we see two beautiful spots but my friend got a stamp in her National Parks book and I purchased a book of my own: a history of women settlers in the area now in my stack to read.  I’ll be hard pressed to top it when next my friend visits.

It isn’t possible to find a bad view in Rocky Mountain National Park but, if you get a chance to visit, check out Bear Lake and take the time to hike to the Falls.  Both places are beautiful and not difficult to reach.  I found them both to be accessible by all fitness levels.  Come to Colorado and decide for yourself!

Welcoming My Lighthearted Kitchen

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Today, I am extending a warm welcome to a guest blogger.  I’ve been following My Lighthearted Kitchen  for a while; reading posts and saving recipes, but didn’t really connect with the author until she asked about other bloggers’ vegan stories.  I shared mine and have gotten to know the author a little.  I look forward to getting to know her better.

A guest post on Renaissance Woman is perfect because, in addition to being a compassionate vegan and amazing cook, My Lighthearted Kitchen has a unique hobby: calligraphy!  My mother used to do calligraphy and I was mesmerized by the pens and flowing script.  It wasn’t ever anything I was any good at but, after reading the guest post, I’ll have to try again.

Take it away!

 

When starting calligraphy, it can sometimes feel like you need a thousand different nibs, expensive paper, multiple inkwells and inks. The truth is, the basic material for calligraphy is pretty cheap and probably easily available to you. Let me take you through some of my basic supplies and a few resources that will help you get started!

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  1. Nib holder: I would suggest going to your art supply store and select a wooden nib holder. I find that the basic plastic ones are too light and tire my hand more quickly that heavier, wooden ones. I found a pretty decent one for 5$.
  2. Nib: I ordered a Nikko G nib online (on Paper Ink Arts) for around 2$ and it works so well! Flexible, but not too soft, I find that it is super easy to use and to get used to. It also gives out very thick downstrokes and  very thin upstrokes, for a perfect contrast!
  3. Paper: I bought a pad of bristol paper for 6$ at my local art supply store because it was readily available. If your store has more resources, you can also look for calligraphy practice pads which are very smooth sheets of paper that are thin enough to let you use a line guide (that is usually given in the pad) and cost around the same price.
  4. Ink: There are tons of really fancy inks out there, but I started out with the basic black China ink because it is easily available and super cheap. It’s a great place to start!
  5. Books: I really like Nib + Ink! It’s so great to start off as it gives excellent tips and practice sheets. That’s right, this guide will give you practice sheets with different writing styles that you can complete in the book itself, which means that you could get away with not buying out fancy paper until you’re sure you like calligraphy. I wish I lived in London so that I could visit the author’s studio; it looks fantastic!
  6. Websites: I love The Postman’s Knock and Julia Bausenhardt’s blogs. They are filled with really cool and fun techniques and super practical tips that will troubleshoot any of your calligraphy problems. They are an endless source of inspiration and information that are worth spending a few hours on!

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I hope these few tips help you if you are interested in starting calligraphy! If you’d like to, I would love it if you would take a second to check out my Etsy store at My Lighthearted Papers. I list samples of my own calligraphy and watercolour work on there. Let me know what your favourite calligraphy supplies are!

Lions and Tigers and Bears…

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…and wolves, too!

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Last weekend, a friend came down from Wyoming for a day visit.  My family and I had ordered Palisade Peaches through the Wild Animal Sanctuary’s program and it just happened the pick-up weekend and my friend’s visit coincided.  My friend was agreeable so we decided to tour the sanctuary before picking up the peaches.

The Sanctuary is a place I’ve followed and supported for a while now but I’ve never had the chance/made the time to do the tour.  The Sanctuary is toured from the “Mile into the Wild Walkway”, a raised walkway that offers an opportunity to safely view the rescued animals.

All the animals are rescued.  They come from defunct circuses, roadside attractions, and drug dealers to list a few.  Some of the stories are heart wrenching: animals that have lived their lives confined to cages and cement and never see grass or unrestricted sunlight until they come to the Sanctuary.

There are still cages but the animals remain so only until they are acclimated to each other and their surroundings and then they are released into a habitat where the animals are made as comfortable as they can be.

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One of the Tigers getting used to the place.

The Sanctuary is not a zoo so the animals can roam quite a distance from the walkway and can be difficult to see without a telephoto lens.  I didn’t want to carry it so the animals are a bit difficult to see in some of the photos I took, but that’s what I like about the Sanctuary: it offers the chance to see amazing carnivores in rural Colorado but it’s all about the animals.  The Sanctuary exists to give them a comfortable home, not to put them on display.  Visiting the animals is a privilege and the Sanctuary’s goal is education.

My friend and I spent two hours in the Sanctuary and it was well worth it.  Check out the Wild Animal Sanctuary; it’s a great place to spend a day.  Also, check out the peach program.  It’s a tasty way to support an organization seeking to do good.

Check out my photos here 

Plan a visit to the Wild Animal Sanctuary!

Check out the Newsletters for awesome rescue stories

 

That’s Queen Samurai To You

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I recently came across another of history’s little-told stories; that of the female Samurai.  I haven’t done extensive study of the Samurai culture and history but what little I have done has acquainted me with names like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  A name I hadn’t come across before was Nakano Takeko.  An hour long documentary entitled Samurai Warrior Queens on the Smithsonian channel introduced me to this fierce woman.

Nakano Takeko was born in Edo, a member of the Aizu domain and daughter of an Aizu official.  Samurai women were trained in martial arts so they could protect the estates from bandits and Takeko began her training when she was six.  She quickly showed aptitude, not only for the martial arts training but in scholarly pursuits as well.  Her favorite stories were of Tomoe Gozen, a Samurai woman who’d fought and died 600 years before Takeko’s birth.

When Takeko was 16 her master, Daisuke, presented his nephew to her as a potential husband.  If Takeko accepted, she’d be subject to her  new husband and her name would probably have been lost to history.  She refused and had to separate herself from her disgruntled master, becoming a martial arts instructor in her own right.

At the same time, Japan was rapidly changing.  The Samurai had been in power for over 1000 years but their power was waning, as was Japan’s isolation from the west.  It was an American, Commodore Matthew Perry, who used gunboat diplomacy to  force the Shogun into a trade treaty in 1854.  Once America had a foothold; Britain, France, and Russia followed.  Many Samurai felt their country had been humiliated and rose against the Shogun, joining together under the banner of the Emperor, a relatively useless ruler based in Kyoto.

The Emperor’s Samurai had access to western weapons-rifles and canon-while the Shogun’s Samurai fought with the historical edged weapons.  Not surprisingly, the Shogun’s Samurai were defeated and retreated north; Nakano Takeko and her sister Yuko among them.

The Shogun’s Samurai prepared for a last stand and a westerner, Henry Schnell, promised he could get them weapons.  He intended to smuggle them through the port of Niigata but he was unsuccessful and ended up fleeing for his life.  The Shogun’s Samurai were on their own.

Rumors spread about the Emperor’s fighters raping women and selling them into slavery but Takeko was determined not to commit suicide.  She and her sister were determined to fight and other women rallied around them.  They presented themselves at an Aizu outpost but the Samurai commander refused to allow them to fight as an official part of the domain’s army.  Not to be refused, on the morning of October 10, 1868, Takeko Nakano leads 18 other women into battle.

They should have been cut down.  The Emperor’s Samurai were armed with rifles, probably Spencer rifles; repeating rifles capable of 15 shots per minute.  Instead, the order was given to take the women alive.  This was a mistake.  The opposing army was stunned at the women’s ferocity and none fought harder than Takeko.  Despite her skill and ferocity, Nakano Takeko was killed.  Her sister, Yuko, removed her head from the battlefield to prevent her from becoming an enemy trophy and managed to get it back to the family’s temple  where the priest promised to bury Takeko with honor.

A memorial to Nakano Takeko has been erected and modern Japanese women train in the same fighting style Takeko would have learned.  And yet, Nakano Takeko isn’t alone.  While the traditional role of female Samurai was to defend castles, extinguish fires, tend wounded, and prepare ammunition, there were many who played vital roles on battlefields.  And yet, most Samurai history revolves around men.

I have a book, Samurai: The code of the Warrior by Thomas Louis and Tommy Ito.  This is hardly a comprehensive history of the Samurai and yet the only mention of female Samurai is:

Samurai girls did not receive formal education, but they were expected to run their husbands’ estate while they were away at war.  They also received martial arts training, especially in the yari and naginata, and there are many examples of samurai women fighting alongside their husbands.  The most famous samurai woman, Tomeo Gozen, lived during the Gempei Wars.  She decapitated the enemy leader after he ripped her clothes, and she presented his head to her husband.

 

Why is there so little said of female Samurai’s contribution?  According to the Smithsonian’s documentary, it would be shameful if the victorious outcome of a battle could, in any way, be attributed to women.  Thus, glory and honor were reserved exclusively for male warriors.  That is changing.

Archaeological evidence is finally showing the true magnitude of contributions of many women  who fought with the same spirit as Nakano Takeko.  Bones were discovered at Senbon Matsubara, site of a 1580 battle involving the Takeda Samurai.  As the bones were unearthed and studied, forensic archaeologists were able to determine 30% of the fighting force were women.  This discovery prompted the study of other battlefields and archaeologists were surprised to find the average held true: almost 30% of the Samurai fighting forces were women.

Nakano Takeko and her army were retroactively called the Women’s Army but their contribution recognized and history is beginning to recognize the many other women that sacrificed and died, equal to their male counterparts.  The Samurai Warrior Queens.

Some interesting links:

http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/samurai-warrior-queens/0/3420808

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakano_Takeko

https://badassladiesofhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/nakano-takeko/

http://thefemalesoldier.com/blog/nakano-takeko