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Some people in Japan have no more than a passing interest in the country’s long and fascinating history, which is at least partly the fault of how the subject is taught in schools. Many history classes place a heavy emphasis on memorization of the exact dates and years of important events, leaving less time for studying the people and motivations behind them.

There’s been a recent surge in history buffs, though, especially in regards to the Sengoku, or Warring States, period which lasted from the mid 15th century until the very start of the 17th century. But it’s not crusty old historians leading this charge, as a recent samurai battle reenactment had women making up some 40 percent of the volunteers, whose ranks were also bolstered by video gamers and foreign residents of Japan.

During its century and a half of civil war, power in Japan was held by dozens of feuding warlords. Many of those figures remain folk heroes in their localities, such as Takeda Shingen, the Tiger of Kai (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) and Uesugi Kenshin, the Dragon of Echigo (Niigata Prefecture).

With their domains bordering one another, the Takeda and Uesugi clans repeatedly clashed on the Kawanakajima plains, one of the scarce patches of flat land in their mountainous territories. For the past 30 years, Yamanashi’s Fuefuki City has staged an annual reenactment of the fourth and largest Battle of Kawanakajima, which took place in 1561.

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This year’s event, which took place on April 26, drew some 800 reenactors and tens of thousands of spectators to the five-hour long festivities. Also on hand was a film crew from the Wall Street Journal, which discovered some interesting things about the demographic makeup of those decked out in lamellar armor.

According to the report, roughly 320 of the would-be samurai were women, a further sign of the continuing rekijo trend. A mashup of the Japanese words for “history” (rekishi) and “woman” (josei), these history-loving ladies are growing in number, with two reasons commonly given for their passion: either an admiration of the single-minded sense of stoic purpose of the archetypical samurai, or the pretty boy-filled anime and video game adaptations of the lives of historic figures.

▼ Or their swords, in some cases

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The Fuefuki City event probably benefited on both fronts, as Takeda Shingen was a respected tactician and administrator whose retainers included the samurai Sanada Yukimura, who’s also one of the handsome leads of the Sengoku Basara anime and video game franchise.

▼ See if you can spot the Sanada crest on some of the flags in the video

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Video games don’t always have to rely on eye candy to get people interested in history, though. A male participant in the reenactment mentions he first got bit by the samurai bug after playing classic strategy game Nobunaga’s Ambition.

And in a complete reversal of the inward-aiming aggression of the Sengoku period, the Fuefuki event is helping to forge some international friendships. Among those taking part this year were a number of foreign reenactors, including U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan.

In the end, it all ties into the comment made in the video by Fuefuki City Assembly Chairman Toshio Okubo, who hopes “this will become an opportunity for many people to come here, and go home with a positive image of Fuefuki and Yamanashi.”

We’re sure that many of those who came for the event did, and appreciated the fact that unlike outside samurai of old, they didn’t have to fight their way in.

Related: Fuefuki City Tourism Navi
Source: Reddit
Top image: Fuefuki City Tourism Navi
Insert images: DMM, Cloudfront, Fuefuki City Tourism Navi