Welcome to day two of Hotsui Matruri! Last year, we cover shrines and legends, which means it’s only natural that we talk about Shrine Maidens this year. This beautiful culture is mesmerizing and it’s stories are captivating. These maidens are the gems of Shinto.
Shrine Maidens also known as Miko or Fujo are trained to maintain shrines as well as assist in purification ceremonies called O-hare and if you’re lucky, Kagura dances. People would often consider them pure and since they were also trained or said to be born with psychic abilities like mediums. They were also revered to be female shamans with abilities to exorcise demons and evil spirits as well as predict the future and bless places and things. They also helped people who couldn’t sleep, had hallucinations, or hysteria.
There is a dark side of the Miko, being that they were used for “sacred prostitution” or “sexual rites” in order to raise money for their shrines. There is a lot of speculation since there isn’t much evidence of that time but it is said to have ended in the Meiji era as westerners started to enter Japan with the rise of Christianity came the fall of Shinto. Regardless, I felt important to note since Miko can also be sexualized in some anime.
What they do and where to find them
They can be seen in the shops on site that sell Omamori blessed charms and sometimes behind the booths to help pull fortunes. Also cleaning around shrines or temples as groundkeepers often sweeping, polishing or washing.
What they wear
All Miko wear red pants called Hakama and a white kimono Kosode. Since white and red are considered sacred colors in Japan, it only makes sense that holy or spiritual people wore those colors too. White representing purity while red represents power and energy. You can also see them tying their hair back with ribbons (white or red). In certain rituals and dances they use weapons and adorn themselves with head pieces or crowns all together it’s called a Chihara.
And there you have it! A brief description of the Miko way.