Queen Himiko-Strong women in Japanese History

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Queen Himiko, also known as Pimiko or Pimiku (183? - 248 AD), was the 3rd century AD ruler of the region that would later become known as Hsieh-ma-t'ai or Yamatai, later Yamato, in ancient Japan. She was regarded by the china as the ruler of all of Japan, or of Wa, she.

With the state power in her hands, she was in mutual diplomacy with the dominant Wei dynasty. A somewhat mythical figure, Himiko is interestingly absent from Japanese historical records, but is briefly mentioned in Chinese historical records. It is known that the queen was a shaman, did not marry and lived in a castle where 1000 women served her.



In archaic Japanese, Himiko's name means Child of the Sun or Daughter of the Sun, possibly implying her divine lineage based on the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu. Just as all Japanese rulers would later be described as descended from this line. Scholars disagree about the exact location of Queen Himiko's state, Hsieh-ma-tai/Yamatai. A minority locate it in northern Kyushu, but the majority consider the Nara region as the closest candidate.

During the reign of Himiko in the 3rd century AD, Japan had about 100 kingdoms spread across the islands. It seems that Himiko's state was the most powerful of them all, and may have ruled 30 separate provinces as a free federation, given that the Chinese state of the time actually considered him the ruler of all of Japan.


It was not unusual for the rulers of early East Asian culture to have Queen Himiko in the role of female shaman or female high priest. This situation is also briefly mentioned in the Chinese history book Wei Chih (History of the Wei Kingdom), written in AD 297.

It is said in the book that Himiko "did in magic and magic, bewitching people" (Henshall, 152). Queen Himiko is not mentioned by name in histories of the Japanese Dynasty, such as the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Events) compiled in 712 AD and the Nihon Shoki (Japanese Chronicles and alias Nihongi) compiled in 720 AD.


Following this embassy issue, the Chinese bestowed Himiko the honorary title of “Queen of Wa, Friend of Wei” and a golden seal. Other gifts were given to the queen in return for her gifts, which included fine clothing and slaves to the great hegemony of the region.

Among them were beads, 100 bronze mirrors and swords. Some of these pieces may have become part of the Japanese imperial treasury. Himiko sent two more envoys to China in 234 and 247 AD. Despite all these good relations, there would be no further contact between the two states until the Sui Dynasty in the 7th century AD.


According to Wei Chih, Queen Himiko was chosen by her people after a tumultuous 70 or 80 years of war and upheaval. Although she had a peaceful reign, the queen is said to have never married and lived like a hermit in a mighty towered castle guarded by 100 outsiders.

Inside, there were 1,000 female servants serving the royal family. Himiko had a male attendant who served her meals and kept her in touch with her own kingdom and other states. He also left state affairs to his younger brother, or at least shared government affairs with him, while devoting himself to shamanism.


Perhaps the romantic portrayal of this seclusion and leaving politics to his brother may be the result of the author's bias. It was commonplace for Japanese rulers not to receive ambassadors. For example; this would cause the Chinese visitors to perceive a secluded monarch. Later, male writers were eager to establish an exclusively male-dominated lineage on the Japanese throne.


When Himiko died in AD 248, he was reportedly buried in a tomb measuring 100 paces (equivalent to 150 meters), and 100 slaves were sacrificed in his honor. With his death, Japan passed from the Yayoi Period (300 BC – 250 AD) to the Kofun Period (250-538 AD).

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Ahh! I really am enjoying your history stories! I've read world history but not this extent! Wow! Perhaps, I should start reading too and do a bit of history stories! hahaha! Thank u for the read!

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1 year ago

I love world history and mythologies. As time goes by, my interest and desire to research are increasing :) Thank you for your nice comment, let's read together!

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1 year ago

Would love to! Happy reading for the both of us!

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1 year ago