Cosplayer of Himiko Toga magician kneeling. Photo by Solomon203 – Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Amazing Facts About Himiko              


 

Himiko, also spelled Pimiko, also called Yamatohime No Mikoto, (flourished 3rd century AD, Japan), was the first known ruler of Japan and the supposed originator of the Grand Shrine of Ise still considered the most important Shintō sanctuary in Japan.

According to Japanese legend, Himiko was the daughter of the emperor Suinin (fl. 1st century BC–1st century AD), who gave her custody of the sacred mirror, the symbol of the sun goddess. In 5 BC she supposedly enshrined the mirror at Ise, a city of present Mie Prefecture.

1. Himiko ruled an area referred to as Yamatai

Himiko Queen of Yamataikoku. Oil painting of Queen Himiko inspiring soldiers in preparation for the fight against Ito. Photo by Xapaga tocnxnpo, Toshihiro Harada – Wikimedia Commons

Chinese historical records, considered more accurate than contemporary Japanese accounts, confirm the existence of an unmarried queen named Himiko but place her in the early 3rd century AD.

According to some sources, she ruled an area referred to as Yamatai, the location of which remains in dispute.

  1. The characters used to represent the name Himiko mean sun child

The characters used to represent the name Himiko mean “sun child,” or “sun daughter” in archaic Japanese, and it is interesting to note that later Japanese rulers claimed to be descendants of the sun goddess.

3. Himiko seems to have had dual status as both a ruler and a kind of high priestess

A sculpture of shamaness Queen Himiko (175-248 CE) of Yamatai-koku from the Osaka Prefectural Museum of Yayoi Culture. Photo by Artanisen – Wikimedia Commons

That Himiko seems to have had dual status as both a ruler and a kind of high priestess corroborates the theory that early Japan was governed by women with religious powers.

Ise Shrine, Japanese Ise-jingū, also called Grand Shrine of Ise, Japanese Ise-daijingū, is one of the principal shrines of Shinto (the indigenous religion of Japan). It is located near the city of Ise in Mie ken (prefecture), central Honshu.

4. The large shrine complex includes scores of buildings

A shrine in Japan. Photo by Charles Postiaux on Unsplash

The large shrine complex includes scores of buildings, the two most important being the Inner Shrine (Naikū) and Outer Shrine (Gekū), situated about 4 miles (6 km) apart. Ise Shrine is a major destination for pilgrims and tourists and has millions of visitors annually.

5. The Inner Shrine officially named Kōtai Jingū is dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami

A shrine in Japan. Photo by Richard Tao on Unsplash

According to tradition, the Inner Shrine—officially named Kōtai Jingū—was first constructed in 4 BCE; most likely, however, the earliest structure dates from sometime later, possibly as early as the 3rd century CE.

 It is dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess and traditional progenitor of the Japanese imperial family. The Sacred Mirror, one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan (Sanshu no Jingi), is preserved there.

6. The Outer Shrine officially Toyouke-daijingū is dedicated to Yoyuke (Toyouke) Ōkami

Some Japanese ladies walking through a Japanese shrine. Give a shoutout to Jane Diaz on social or copy the text below to attribute. Photo by Jane Diaz on Unsplash

The Outer Shrine (officially Toyouke-daijingū), founded in the late 5th century, is dedicated to Yoyuke (Toyouke) Ōkami, the deity of food, clothing, and housing. The shrine is administered by the supreme priestess, the saishu (“chief of the religious ceremonies”); she ranks above the daiguji, the supreme priest.

7. The main building is a thatched hut built in ancient Japanese style

Japanese girls taking a walk dressed in Japanese-style robs. Photo by Svetlana Gumerova on Unsplash

At both shrines, the main building is a thatched hut built in ancient Japanese style with unpainted Japanese cypress (hinoki). Beginning in the 7th century, the buildings of the two shrines and the bridges leading to each shrine’s compound were reconstructed every 20 years in a ritual called the shikinen sengū.

8. Trees used for building materials are raised in the extensive forests

Aerial view of trees. Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash

That tradition has been carried on almost continuously since then, although there were interruptions in the cycle during the so-called “warring states era” (Sengoku-jidai) in the 15th and 16th centuries. Trees used for building materials are raised in the extensive forests that are part of the shrine complex.

The reconstruction completed in 2013 was capped in October by a ceremony, attended by tens of thousands of people, in which the deities were ritually transferred from the old structures to the new ones.

9. The first historical records of Himiko are found in the Records of the Three Kingdoms Records

Young Himiko receives an oracle. Photo by Xapaga tocnxnpo – Wikimedia Commons

The first historical records of Himiko are found in the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Zhi,), a Chinese classic text dating to c. 297.

 However, rather than Records of the Three Kingdoms, Japanese scholars use the term Gishi Wajin Den, “Records of Wei: Account of Wajin’’) a Japanese abbreviation for the account of Wajin in the “Biographies of the Wuhuan, Xianbei, and Dongyi’’, Volume 30 of the “Book of Wei’’  of the Records of the Three Kingdoms. This section is the first description of Himiko (Pimiko) and Yamatai:

The Japanese people of Wa dwell in the middle of the ocean on the mountainous islands southeast of [the prefecture of Tai-fang. They formerly comprised more than one hundred communities. During the Han dynasty, [Wa envoys] appeared at the Court; today, thirty of their communities maintain intercourse [with us] through envoys and scribes. 

10. Himiko occupied herself with magic and sorcery, bewitching the people

A young man performing Magic using his hands. Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

This early history describes how Himiko came to the throne: The country formerly had a man as ruler. For some seventy or eighty years after that, there were disturbances and warfare. Thereupon the people agreed upon a woman for their ruler. Her name was

 She occupied herself with magic and sorcery, bewitching the people. Though mature in age, she remained unmarried. She had a younger brother who assisted her in ruling the country. After she became the ruler, few saw her. She had one thousand women as attendants, but only one man.

 

He served her food and drink and acted as a medium of communication. She resided in a palace surrounded by towers and stockades, with armed guards in a state of constant vigilance.