Today (March 5) is Shrine Maiden Day (Miko-no-Hi), because the numbers sort of sound like they could be pronounced like miko in Japan’s somewhat confusing (to foreigners) number pronunciation system. J-List is celebrating with a top Shrine Maiden Character Ranking.
Miko, of course, are the beautiful women who symbolically purify Shinto shrines, and it’s natural for Westerners to view them as Japan’s version of nuns. In reality, the job doesn’t seem to require much in the way of formal training, and certainly doesn’t require any level of purity by the girls themselves. Once I was staying in a hot springs inn with some adult students, and there was a shrine maiden staying in the room next to us. We ended up drinking with her, and she told us there are no restrictions against miko dating or having sex.
As I’ve written before, Japan has two classical religious traditions: Shinto, the original religion of Japan, which sees kami (gods or spirits) in natural objects such as trees, rivers, mountains, and so on; and Buddhism, which entered Japan around the sixth century A.D. Because Shinto is so colorful, with bright red torii arches and beautiful shrines, and because it so well represented in Japanese pop culture including anime, we are all generally quite familiar it. Because Japan’s version of Buddhism is associated with funerals and remembering one’s dead ancestors, it’s intrinsically less “fun” and shows up in Japanese pop culture a lot less often. As a result, we tend to not have much cultural knowledge of Buddhism, even though it’s a very important part of modern Japan.
So let’s get started with the 11 Best Shrine Maiden Character Ranking!
Did you like our Shrine Maiden Character Ranking? Did we leave out your favorite miko? If so, tell us in the comments!