Kimi (priestess)

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  • Japanese: 君 (kimi)

The "thirty-three kimi" were high-ranking priestesses in 16th century Ryûkyû each associated with a particular sacred site and/or deity. In many cases already existing as independent lineages, these various local priestesses were brought into a hierarchy or network under the authority of the kikôe-ôgimi (the high priestess of the kingom) by King Shô Shin as part of a broader effort to consolidate power under the control of the kingdom / royal court.

The thirty-three kimi included the priestesses of Akeshino, Sasukasa, Aoriyae, and Serikaku, among others. All were (or were replaced by) direct relatives of the royal household, with the exception of the priestess of Kimihae on Kumejima.


  • Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 165.