Kikyō and Tsubaki, two prominent priestesses.

In Shintō, a miko (巫女) is a shrine maiden or a supplementary priestess. Throughout the Sengoku jidai of Japan, miko were human priestesses who often used their spiritual powers to combat evil spirits and demons in order to protect those who were defenseless against supernatural threats. In modern Japanese culture, the shrine priestess has apparently been an institutionalized role in daily shrine life, and they're trained to perform certain ceremonial tasks, ranging from sacred cleansing to performing the sacred dances.


Miko are the shrine maidens of Japan beginning in the Sengoku jidai of Japan. In ancient times, women who went into trances and conveyed the words of a god were called miko, not unlike the Oracle at Delphi of Ancient Greece.


All women who are aspiring priestesses are trained in a school or temple in which they study demons and monsters and practice to master spiritual powers.

After graduating, they usually settle in towns or cities to protect and help people, although some, like monks, choose to have a wandering life hunting the demons they find.

Physiology and Psychological Characteristics[]

Priestesses are human women who are trained as healers and warriors. They mainly combat demonic threats, and are thus normally well versed in the occult and demonology. Miko are generally skilled in some variety of martial art or the use of a traditional Japanese weapon (e.g. yumi (longbow), tantō (knife), or any of the various Japanese swords: katana, wakizashi, etc.). True miko are also attributed with spiritual powers that could be utilized to erect barriers and perform "magic," especially o-fuda. Thus the level and power of a priestess is determined by the extent of their spiritual powers. However, while one with high-levels of spiritual power could pursue the role of a priestess, this does not guarantee that all priestess have legitimate supernatural powers or above average spiritual power.

The traditional costume or dress of a miko is a chihaya, which consists of a scarlet red hakama (divided skirt), a white haori, and tabi.

Dark Priestess[]

  • Kuro Miko (黒巫女; Japanese for Black Priestess) are sort of an evil counterpart to traditional miko. Dark priestesses often serve as a renegade priest or evil sorcerer. Like benevolent miko, they are trained in similar spiritual arts and may have an intimate weapons knowledge. The kuro miko is often well versed in demonology and has a strong command of black magic.

While kuro miko also wear chihaya, the colors tend to be darker (two often used color schemes are black and purple, or black and gold). In some anime series, kuro miko wear masks while performing clerical duties, both for effect and to hide their identity.

The priestess Tsubaki is the only notable example of a kuro miko or dark priestess. In fact Tsubaki demonstrates virtually all of the attributes of a kuro miko both in her control and summoning of demons as well as her affinity for dark colored clothing.

Powers and Abilities[]

  • Purification: Miko are capable of purifying curses and demonic energies caused by yōkai.
  • Spirit Magic: The miko have the ability to cast spirit magic which allows them to cast spells and blessings that are capable of killing demons and spirits.
  • Spiritual Perception: The miko have the ability to sense instantly when there is a demon or spirit nearby.
  • Exorcisms: The Miko can exorcise ghosts and yōkai.
  • Enchantments: The miko can give blessings and enchantments to people or objects to howl spirits and demons.
  • Curses: The miko are also capable of casting curses on people and objects.
  • Summoning Spirits: Although the main job of the miko is to exorcise and expel spirits, the most powerful are able to summon and control them at will.
  • Mastery of weapons: Although they depend a lot on their spiritual magic, the miko are also capable of using different weapons in which they can infuse their magic to be able to attack yokais directly.


  • Sutras: Written incantations that act as demon destroying amulets. Sutras are also used to identify demons who have hidden in human form as a single touch from a powerful sutra is capable of instantly revealing a disguised demon. Not only that but sutras may be used to erect physical spiritual barriers
  • Bow and arrow:
  • Sacred Arrow:


  • Mortality: Despite their special abilities, the miko are still human who live limited life spans.
  • Spiritual power: despite their powers, the Miko are not immune to spiritual power, so they can be attacked and cursed by spiritual users, even by other Miko.

Known Miko[]


  • It is somewhat difficult to assign a strict definition or English equivalent translation to the Japanese word "Miko," though the terms Prophet, Medium (as in Oracle), Shrine Maiden, Priestess, Nun, or Sorceress are often used.
    • The literal translation of miko (巫女) is however a "priestess," "shrine maiden," "medium," or "sorceress."
  • In some romantic stories and bishōjo comedies, mikos are sometimes portrayed as attractive but overly serious and temperamental girls who are incapable of dealing with boys (such as fearing or outright hating them).
  • Supposedly miko were virgins, though it is unlikely that this was true. It is probably true that if/when a woman who was serving as a miko married, she abandoned her duties at the temple in order to be with her husband and new family.
  • It should be noted that kuro miko do not exist in real-world Shintō.



  1. In the anime only

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