Friday, January 21, 2011

A gallery of Miko

Iwashimizu Hachimangu, Kyoto.
Miko, commonly translated as "shrine maiden" in English, can be seen at many shrines in Japan.

Iwashimizu Hachimangu, Kyoto.
At larger shrines they will be full-time employees with duties that include office work, cleaning, sales, and assisting with ceremonies.

Dazaifu Tenmangu.
They are not female priests, or priestesses. There are female priests, though they are  not a large percentage of the priesthood.

Iwaishima, Kanmai Matsuri
At smaller, local shrines, elementary-school girls will fulfill the role of miko in some ceremonies. A common scenario being Miko Mai, a dance performed by a single miko or a group. I have several videos of Miko mai, one performed by 4 village girls at the Tsunozu matsuri, and another of two full-time miko rehearsing for a festival at Kagoshima Jingu. Both posts also have lots of photos.

Takachiho Shrine.

Nagaoka Tenmangu.
The most common time to see miko though will be over the New Year period when shrines are at their busiest in the whole year. Big shrines will hire lots of university students as Miko to handle the influx of visitors.

Nagaoka Tenmangu
The full-time Miko will perform the more ceremonial duties, commonly inculuding purification rituals.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Exquisite — especially the last two, and the first one — and the miko running, and...

  3. Superbes photos empreintes à la fois de solennité et de naturel!
    Merci de les partager!!

  4. I have discovered this great blog very late! Photos and stories are great. Wanna visit Japan as soon as possible.