The Mysterious Queen Himiko of Yamatai

Empress Jingū, print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1880) — The legendary Empress Jingū may have been influenced by Queen Himiko. Like Himiko, Jingū was supposed to have lived in the 200s CE.

The history of ancient Japan is contentious. Conflicting reports of rulers, statuses, and chieftainships in the Japanese archipelago among Chinese, Korean, and Japanese sources reveal fundamental disagreements. Chinese and Korean sources mention a great shamaness/queen named Himiko, ruler of a place called ‘Yamatai’ in the early-3rd century. Japanese records, by contrast, make no mention of her. Why? What can we find out…

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