Yaotome (八乙女)

Yaotome refers to 8 female shrine media called miko who serve gods mainly by performing sacred music and performing a dance called kagura (also known as Miko kagura - dances by shrine maidens) and mikomai (female Shinto dance where the young girls each carry a small baton with bells). Beside "八乙女," in kanji, Yaotome is given the following:八社女, 八少女, and 八乎止女. Also the term of Yaotome is shortened to "Yame."

However the number of performers was not originally set as eight; the word 'eight' is considered to have meant multiple or large numbers.

It is believed that the Yaotome originates from shrine maidens who served food to Emperor Keiko and the gods in the ancient Daijo-sai Festival (a festival to celebrate the succession of an emperor) held by the Emperor. In later years Jingikan (department of worship) selected court ladies from provinces to have them perform such services. This had an influenced on other shrines, that set up the post of miko who originally performed similar services and who were later involved in Shinto rituals.

The Yaotome of Kasuga-taisha Shrine and Itsukushima-jinja Shrine was renowned in the old days and today Yaotome mai (dance by Yaotome) performed at Miho-jinja Shrine, Kotohira-gu Shrine, and Toyokuni-jinja Shrine are also well known.
It is said that in the Meiji period, the Yaotome mai was reformed into a dance of higher artistic quality because it was about to be prohibited according to government policy,

Geographical Name
Yaotome-ura (Yura, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture): it was named after the eight beautiful ladies who welcomed Prince Hachinoko by performing a dance.

Yaotome-dokutsu cave (Yura, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture): its entrance was covered by rocks destroyed in Sakata earthquake that occurred in the Meiji period.

Yaotome-koen Park (Daisen City, Akita Prefecture): It was named after Yaotome-jo Castle.

Yaotome (Izumi Ward, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture)

Mt. Yaotome (Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture): some proposed "Yaotome City" for the name of the new city formed through a municipal merger known as "the Great Merger of the Heisei Era," but the municipal assembly adopted Nanto City by a majority vote. An event called Hachimonji-yaki, which resembles Gozan Okuribi (Mountain Bon Fire) in Kyoto, is held every year.