Queen Himiko

Oracle bones

A turtle shell version of oracle bones with the divined message carved into it.

Queen Himiko, also known as Yamatohime No Mikoto, was a shamaness and queen of Wa (ancient Japan).  Her reign was sometime during the early to mid-third century CE.  Himiko's kingdom was called Yamatai and she ruled over an alliance of thirty chieftains; it is debated where Yamatai was located but the two main contenders are Kyushu and western Japan, close to present-day Kyoto.  Himiko ruled through her powers as a shamaness, communicating with deities through the use of oracle bones; some type of animal bones, usually deer, baked in a fire until they crack.  The cracks in the oracle bones would be the deities' mouthpiece, passing prophecies and orders from heaven to Himiko.  These prophecies and edicts would then inform either directly or indirectly those that Himiko would have her brother pass on to her subjects.  She was popular with the people and still is very popular in Japan today.

Ise Shrine

Shinto Shrine at Ise

Sources from Wei China note that Himiko arranged for tribute to be sent to Wei, implying a tributary relationship between the two kingdoms; these sources also tell us that Himiko was unmarried and in fact remained unmarried throughout her reign.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Japanese legend has it that Himiko's father gave her charge of a sacred mirror that supposedly belonged to the Sun Goddess.  She took this mirror and enshrined it at a Shinto shrine she established as a permanent location at which to worship the Sun Goddess.  The Ise Shrine is still standing today in the city of Ise in present-day Mie prefecture.

Abigail Ellsworth