Himiko (3rd century) was the first recorded ruler of Japan. The Chinese chroniclers described her as a great shaman queen who united 30 warring clans, established the imperial throne, sent diplomatic envoys to China, and ruled over her people with the aid of “magic and sorcery.” It seems that male dominance had not yet come to Japan.
The illustrations above are based on archaeological findings from the period when Himiko is believed to have lived. Our costume mostly draws from the detail sketch of Himiko in white. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:
1. A white kimono with painted leaves and flower petals. This kimono looks wonderful for Kimono, though unless you’re very petite, it probably will not reach all the way to the floor. You can wear a floor-length petticoat underneath to fill things out (a sari petticoat is only 10 dollars or so). Don’t use the matching pre-tied obi that comes with the kimono; it’s beautiful, but much too modern looking. Instead you’re going to use the next piece.
2. Vintage striped obi. This is about 10 feet long. You’re going to tie it the ancient way, just like in the Himiko illustration: wrap it once or twice around your body, knot it in the front, and let the ends hang to the ground.
3. Leaf hair wreath. Yes, we know what kind of leaves those look like. Himiko was a shaman, see? And hemp was very much part of ancient religious rituals in Japan.
4. Mirror pendant necklace. Here’s the deal: people in Himiko’s Japan were crazy about bronze mirrors. Archaeologists have dug them up by the hundreds. In fact, Himiko herself received 100 bronze mirrors as a gift from the Chinese emperor. It’s thought that shamans and priests wore bronze mirrors around their necks during rituals, so that the reflection would dazzle the hoi polloi. We didn’t think we’d find anything that would work for the costume, but this piece is a great bargain.
5. A triple-strand necklace of red agate. This looks looks like the right kind of thing for Himiko.
Costume illustration credits: The large background image is copyright Newton Graphic Science Magazine, from their “Nihon no ruutsu.” It’s borrowed from the Heritage of Japan site, which has lots of great info. The detail illustration of Himiko is by Angus McBride.