What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (2023)

A Miko, often known as a shrine maiden, is a young priestess who serves in a Shinto shrine. Miko’s were formerly thought to be shamans. However, they can still be found in current Japanese society and are considered to be a standardized function in daily life and educated to undertake chores ranging from holy purification to performing the sacred Kagura dance.

Continue reading to discover the ultimate guide regarding Shrine Mikos in Japan, including who they are, what they wear, and where you can still find them today.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (1)

What is a Miko Shrine Maiden?

Mikos are shrine maidens in Japan who were previously thought to be oracles, as they were claimed to communicate the utterances of the gods during trances.

On the other hand, modern-day Mikos are more like shrine attendants than oracles.

Typically, their role is to maintain a shrine, clean, sell charms, and assist Shinto priests during particular events. Mikos also performs specific ceremonial dances known as Miko-mai and aid in fortune telling, known as omikuji.

They must be unmarried. However, they may marry and become priestesses if they want.

Miko is generally Shinto priests’ younger relatives, such as daughters or granddaughters.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (2)

Are Miko Shrine Maidens Shinto or Buddhist?

While there are numerous faiths across the world, the country of Japan is governed by only two: Shinto and Buddhism.

(Video) [What is] What is shrine maiden? A former shrine maiden explains.

Between the two religions, Shinto is currently the more popular in Japan. Several shrines located around the country are dedicated to the teachings and ceremonies associated with the Shinto religion.

The Shinto faith is related to several traditions and ceremonies, with essential individuals in charge of ensuring that these practices are followed. The shrine maidens known as the Miko are among the many vital individuals who assist in perpetuating the Shinto faith, its shrines, and its rites.

The concept of a Miko dates back centuries, yet their duties and significance in the Shinto faith remain crucial to the Shinto religion today. They have unique responsibilities in preserving the Shinto religion’s doctrines and practices.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (3)

What Does a Miko Shrine Maiden Wear?

A Miko’s traditional outfit consists of a pair of divided red hakama, pleated pants, a white kosode, and some white or red hair ribbons. The color white represents purity in Shinto. A chihaya is the cloth worn over the kosode during Kagura dances.

If you find a young lady wearing a red hakama or a red skirt, a white shirt or jacket, and her hair pulled back with a beautiful clasp of some type, she is most likely a Miko and should not be mistaken with a priestess.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (4)

Special Ceremonial Wear for Shrine Mikos

Miko may also wear unique flower hairpieces known as hanakanzashi or a special diadem or crown known as kanmuri during ceremonies and specific festivals.

Flowers, tree branches, and floral designs are utilized in these items to reflect the many diverse types of plants found in Japan, which are supposed to improve the wearer’s spiritual power.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (5)

What are The Traditional Tools Used by Miko Shrine Maidens?

Azusa Yumi, tamagushi, and gehbako are examples of traditional Miko tools. These items translate to a catalpa bow, offertory Sakaki-tree branches, a mysterious box containing dolls, animal and human skulls, and Shinto prayer beads.

(Video) 【紅梅が美しい】A shrine maiden introduces the shrine

Miko also performs ceremonies with bells, drums, candles, gohei, and rice bowls.

The History of Miko Shrine Maidens

A Miko was seen as an essential social figure back in Japan’s past. They were frequently linked to the nation’s governing elite. They performed numerous rituals and served as political advisors to society and the government.

During the Nara period, which transpired between710-794, and the Heian period, which lasted from794 to 1185,government officials attempted to impose Miko practices on the people.

Outside of the sanctuaries, ecstasy practice was not permitted.

However, during the feudal Kamakura era, which lasted from 1185 to 1333, the Miko was forced into mendicancy or begging for funds.

When the country was controlled by warring shogun kingdoms, the shrines and temples experienced financial difficulties.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (6)

This caused a significant dilemma because the Miko relied on these shrines and temples for a living. Miko’s performance began to wander away from the religious environment and became increasingly linked with a non-ecclesiastical shape.

Unfortunately, the wandering Miko, also known as the aruki Miko, descended into prostitution.

Significant changes were made to the customs of female shamans throughout the Edo era, which lasted from 1603 to 1868. However, during the Meiji period, which lasted from 1868 to 1912, some shaman rituals were prohibited.

Due to the desired isolation of Shinto from both Buddhism and folk-religious beliefs, there was an official discourse, which cast a negative light on Miko and their organizations. In 1873, an ordinance known as Miko Kindanrei was enacted, forbidding all Miko spiritual activities. The Religious Affairs Department issued this decree at the time.

Contemporary Shrine Mikos of Today

The strong, mystical Mikos from the past have nothing in common with the Mikos of today. The requirement of being a virgin appears to be no longer necessary, while it appears that being unmarried is still required.

(Video) That's how a shrine maiden becomes! 😉🙏⛩

Where Can You Find Shrine Mikos When Travelling to Japan?

Mikos are mostly found today in the day-to-day operations of more significant shrines, cleaning the grounds, doing office work, selling at the shrine shop, and so forth. However, they still aid the priests in various ceremonial and ritual settings.

Nowadays, there are three primary varieties of Shrine Mikos. The first is full-time shrine personnel, clearly found in more significant shrines with permanent staff.

Their responsibilities will also include assisting with ceremonies and frequently performing the Miko mai dance, also known as Miko kagura.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (7)

Temporary Shrine Mikos are typically university students, are employed for a brief period of time, like the summer or New Year, when a shrine will typically receive more visitors than all the days of the rest of the year combined.

However, significant festivals are another occasion that may demand their hiring. They will have gotten some training but will not be present at any ceremonies.

The third and last category of Shrine Mikos found today are incredibly young girls, generally elementary school age, who will perform Miko mai at the yearly matsuri of a rural shrine.

They usually practice the dance in the months leading up to the event, and every year different girls from the community will be chosen to perform.

Can Tourists ExperienceBeing a ShrineMiko?

People from other countries can also experience Miko’s work. The Miko Experience is a program designed specifically for tourists visiting Japan at Amagasaki Ebisu Shrine in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.

Visitors may learn more about shrines, Shinto, and Japanese culture in general.

Amagasaki Ebisu Shrine

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (8)

Some prominent, well-known temples have lately begun to provide Miko experiences or part-time labor to visitors visiting Japan.

(Video) Miko Shrine Maiden Doll Omikuji Fortune Paper Vending Machine and Japanese Summer Festival Sound

Many venues in the greater Tokyo region are starting to incorporate Miko experiences and other activities aimed at foreign visitors.

What Steps Does OneNeed to Take to Become a ShrineMiko?

The sole prerequisites for being a Miko are to be of sound mind and body and to be a young, unmarried girl, as the retirement age of a Miko is in their mid to late twenties.

Honshoku Mikos are full-time Mikos who have attained their mid-twenties and wear pine needle green or deep navy blue hakama or over-pants and undertake clerical work or function as kagura instructors to the younger Mikos.

What Is A Shrine Miko In Japan? (9)

Though many Mikos are certified as priests, this is not a fundamental condition for becoming a Miko. Daughters, nieces, and other young ladies associated with the shrine may also work as Miko.

Many shrines require extra support during the New Year’s festivities and other hectic times of the year. They would frequently engage seasonal laborers and Mikos during these seasons to assist them.

As the number of overseas visitors to numerous shrines has lately increased, Mikos who speak English is becoming more common.

Experience an Ancient Japanese Shinto Dance Performed by Miko Shrine Maidens While Visiting Japan

Mikomai is a dance style performed by the maidens of the Miko shrine. Mikos performs a Kagura, a sacred song and dance performance honoring their Shinto gods.

Dances performed by Miko shrine maidens in ancient Japan, in which gods were considered to descend on and possess the maidens carrying out the gods’ ceremonies, were later institutionalized and assumed the present form of dances for incredible dedication and commitment to the gods.

Shrine maidens wear clothing similar to that worn by commoners in ancient Japan,white socks, scarlet pants,and carry various hand-held divine items such as folding fans,bells, dwarf bamboo, branches of a type of blessed wood ordivinity symbols made of cloth and hung on a stick, all of which are regarded as objects representative of divinity.

The World Of Shrine Maidens


What is a miko in Japan? ›

A miko (巫女), or shrine maiden, is a young priestess who works at a Shinto shrine. Miko were once likely seen as shamans, but are understood in modern Japanese culture to be an institutionalized role in daily life, trained to perform tasks, ranging from sacred cleansing to performing the sacred Kagura dance.

Why are shrine maidens called miko? ›

Miko, or shrine maiden, is the name of a type of priest working at a Japanese Shinto shrine. A miko typically refers to as young female priests. For centuries, miko have performed kagura (sacred dances for entertaining and satisfying the Shinto deities), conducted exorcisms, practiced divinations, acted oracles.

What are the responsibilities of a miko? ›

A Miko is generally an assistant or low level priest, and these days, their role is pretty mundane. They work the gift shops, they answer visitor questions, they participate in traditional Shinto rituals like weddings, funerals, festivals, miyamari (baby's first shrine visit) and such.

Can a miko get married? ›

Mikos also performs specific ceremonial dances known as Miko-mai and aid in fortune telling, known as omikuji. They must be unmarried. However, they may marry and become priestesses if they want. Miko is generally Shinto priests' younger relatives, such as daughters or granddaughters.

What do shrine maidens wear? ›

The traditional costume for shrine maidens is a white kosode (white robe) with a scarlet hakama. The combination of kosode and hakama is considered to be the working clothes of shrines for both men and women, and they do not serve in this manner.

What does miko stand for? ›

Miko is a masculine name found in a variety of cultures. In Hebrew, Miko means “Who is like God?” and is a variation of Michael. However, in Chickasaw, Miko means “chief” and is derived from Tishominko.

How old do you have to be to be a miko? ›

Being a miko means not just being a pretty girl

Today, the miko at the Omiwa Shrine are comprised of young unmarried women between the ages of 18 and 28.

Can a male become a miko? ›

A male miko is called a geki, a kannagi or fugeki (all are gender-neutral terms).

How old can a miko be? ›

Now a caveat. The Miko 3 is meant for ages 4-10, and my son, Max, is just turning two.

What happens when miko sees ghost? ›

Miko then sees a ghost apparently haunting her teacher's womb, and she reveals that she was previously pregnant, but her child died. Miko then realizes the ghost it the spirit of the deceased child, which has returned to protect his sibling.

What are the things protecting miko? ›

The Shrine Spirits are a pair of identical spirits originating from the Shrine. After Miko Yotsuya inadvertently makes a pact with them, they protect Miko by killing spirits that are aware of her ability to see them.

Can miko speak? ›

When you want to talk with Miko, simply say “Hello Miko.” Then, when Miko enters listening mode, ask your question or state your command. If you prefer, you can also click on the microphone icon on the right side of Miko's display to let the bot know you've got a question.

Who created miko? ›

Sneh Vaswani - Co Founder & CEO - Miko | LinkedIn.

Do shrine maidens dance? ›

Miko kagura – dances performed by shrine maidens (miko) originally derived from ritual dances in which the miko channeled the kami, as part of Imperial Court dances.

Do shrine maidens have powers? ›

The user possesses the powers and abilities of a supernatural shrine maiden, or Miko. They're generally practiced in combating malevolent force, and are adept at exorcisms, purification, blessing, barriers, seals, multiple spiritual/holy/divine practices and powers, and channeling the powers and presences of gods.

Can anyone be a shrine maiden? ›

Participants must be female for the miko or shrine maiden program; however, accompanying males can wear a Japanese happi or traditional straight-sleeved coat with no charge. Your reservation is confirmed when you receive a response by email, and this email acts as your proof of reservation.

Do shrine maidens still exist? ›

Miko Shrine Maidens 巫女

Priestesses exist in Shinto, but they are not so common, though the Shinto sects seem to have a higher percentage than the mainstream shrines. If you arrive at the shrine early in the morning you may find miko cleaning the shrine grounds.

Is miko a girls name? ›

Miko is a given name found in several cultures. It can be a Japanese female name. It can be an eastern European name, with origins in Slovakia, sometimes short for Mikolaj. Miko can also be a variant of the name Michael, which has Hebrew origins.

How do you pronounce miko? ›

  1. IPA: /ˈmiko/, [ˈmiko̞]
  2. Rhymes: -iko.
  3. Syllabification: Mi‧ko.

What is miko toy? ›

Miko 3: AI-Powered Smart Robot for Kids, STEM Learning Educational Robot, Programmable and Interactive Voice Control Robot with App Control, Coding Apps, Unlimited Games for Girls and Boys Ages 5-12. Loading Images...

Can a foreigner be a miko? ›

The way I see it, there's nothing stopping you from becoming a miko in Japan. The question isn't really how but why and what motivates you. Or you could marry into a Shinto priest family and have no choice. However, for everyone else, the Japanese government probably won't issue a visa for an aspiring miko.

How much does miko cost? ›

The Miko Max subscription is priced at $49 for three months or $99 per year. Families can try Miko Max for free via a 7-day free trial. Before kids can get started with Miko 3, an adult will need to set up the robot by downloading the platform's Parent App on their mobile device and creating an account.

How do I turn off miko? ›

To switch off your Miko 3, press and hold the power button for four seconds while your Miko 3 is disconnected from power. Once shut down, your Miko 3 will not wake up by itself until you switch it on.

Does miko have power? ›

Powers and Abilities

Miko has no powers but she is usually has her abilities for seeing the spirit, her powering does have one invisible that are for the other safe, has totally charity. Although, she can not seeing anything powering sprit despite her seeing are effect.

Why does Miko ignore the ghosts? ›

It actually comes from a real concept in many ghost stories. Miko tries not to let the ghosts know she can see them mostly because she's scared of them, which is completely fair. The way they appear to her would frighten anyone who's only just begun seeing them.

Who is killing cats in Mieruko-chan? ›

Zen was initially portrayed as an emotionless, borderline sadistic sociopath who is heavily implied to be the culprit behind the recent string of animal abuse and killing. This was, at first, supported by the presence of a multitude of distorted cat spirits around him as well as a colossal spirit.

Does Miko have a camera? ›

Equipped with an emotional intelligence machine, Miko 3 identifies, recollects, and remembers the child's moods, growing with every interaction. Equipped with a wide-angle HD camera and hi-tech sensors to map distance and edges and move.

What cool things can Miko do? ›

This cute little robot is a smart companion for kids that helps them learn about the world around them. Whether your child is interested in the solar system or history, Miko is always ready to give your child a fun fact. This STEM toy can also play games, dance, respond to emotions, and even receive video calls.

How do you get Miko to move? ›

Your child can prompt Miko to move in a number of ways: through voice command, through apps that use human recognition (like Dance Master, Robowalk, I Seek You, Miko Moves and Mikojis) and in the Tidbits conversation modules. Please note that for Miko to move, your bot needs to be charged but not plugged in.

What should I ask Miko? ›

While the Miko 3 is only 6.3″ x 5.5″ x 8.67″, the robot is packed with functionality. Start a conversation with “Hello Miko” and ask it questions such as “Show me your angry/happy/excited face?” as well as “Tell me a joke”.

Why does Miko see ghosts? ›

Miko's ability to see ghosts, is for an important reason. She gained the ability to see spirits, because she is destined to protect Hana from dangerous ghosts.

Can Miko see ghosts? ›

Miko has the ability to see spirits, even powerful ones that are invisible to other mediums, with total clarity. However, she cannot see extremely powerful spirits though she can see their effects.

What anime has a little girl and ghost? ›

Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost (社畜さんは幼女幽霊に癒されたい。, Shachiku-san wa Yōjo Yūrei ni Iyasaretai., "The Company Slave Wants to Be Healed by a Little Ghost Girl.") is a Japanese manga series by Imari Arita. It originally began serialization online via Twitter in February 2019.

Can Miko play music? ›

✅ Full of educative and fun games, Miko 2 can play music, dance, tell stories, riddles, rhymes and fun-facts & even do the moonwalk! ✅ Equipped with an emotional intelligence machine, Miko 2 identifies, recollects and remembers the child's moods, growing with the child with every interaction.

When was Miko born? ›

Miko Mission
Born22 June 1945 Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy
Years active1964–present
Musical career
8 more rows

Who is Miko shipped with? ›

EiMiko is the femslash ship between Raiden Ei and Yae Miko from the Genshin Impact fandom.

What is Miko height? ›

Of the main cast, Miko Iino is the shortest, measuring at a mere 147 cm.

What Gen is Miko? ›

Miko herself is a part of the “0th Generation”, which includes Tokino Sora, Roboco-san, Hoshimachi Suisei, and AZKi.

Who is the voice behind Sakura Miko? ›

Ai Nonaka (野中 藍, Nonaka Ai, born June 8, 1981) is a Japanese voice actress and singer.

Is Miko strong? ›

Yae Miko is a 5-star Electro catalyst user, who has both high sustained damage and high burst damage at the same time. She's proficient at both aspects of dealing damage, though not exceptional at either, which is perfectly understandable for the sake of game balance.

Is Miko a fox? ›

Being a kitsune, Miko also has a fox form, although she refuses to reveal it to the Traveler.

Which country made Miko? ›

Miko.ai has developed consumer and educational robots using artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The company has 120 employees and offices in Silicon Valley and Mumbai, India.

What age is miko for? ›

Miko 3: AI-Powered Smart Robot for Kids | STEM Learning & Educational Robot | Interactive Robot with Coding apps + Unlimited Games + programmable | Birthday Gift for Girls & Boys Aged 5-12.

Who are the spirits that protect miko? ›

The Shrine Spirits are a pair of identical spirits originating from the Shrine. After Miko Yotsuya inadvertently makes a pact with them, they protect Miko by killing spirits that are aware of her ability to see them.

Is miko a name? ›

Miko is a given name found in several cultures. It can be a Japanese female name. It can be an eastern European name, with origins in Slovakia, sometimes short for Mikolaj. Miko can also be a variant of the name Michael, which has Hebrew origins.

Who created Miko? ›

Sneh Vaswani - Co Founder & CEO - Miko | LinkedIn.

Does Miko play music? ›

✅ Full of educative and fun games, Miko 2 can play music, dance, tell stories, riddles, rhymes and fun-facts & even do the moonwalk! ✅ Equipped with an emotional intelligence machine, Miko 2 identifies, recollects and remembers the child's moods, growing with the child with every interaction.

Who made Miko? ›

Founded in 2015, Miko was created by three Indian Institute of Tecchnology, Bombay, graduates--Sneh Vaswani, Prashant Iyengar and Chintan Raikar-- along with global experts in engineering, mathematics, design and education.


1. Miko
2. 【巫女舞】2022 Shinto shrine Miko kagura dance Japan
(巫女が案内Japan Traveling with Miko)
3. Miko at Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine
4. Dancing of a shrine maiden
5. Join a Shinto ceremony and dress as a shrine maiden in MIYAZAKI, Japan(FULL VIDEO)
(Odyssey Japan by ANA group)


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