Kikyo is a powerful shrine maiden, or miko, who is given the task of guarding the Shikon Jewel. She falls in love with InuYasha and considers using the jewel to turn him from a half-demon into a full human; this would cause the Shikon Jewel to vanish, allowing her to live as an ordinary woman by his side. However, Naraku disguises himself as InuYasha to attack her village, mortally wounding her. With her last strength, Kikyo shoots a charmed arrow into the real InuYasha to seal him to a sacred tree, then orders the Shikon Jewel to be burned with her on her funeral pyre. The jewel disappears and is apparently destroyed, but is reborn 500 years later in the body of Kagome Higurashi, her spiritual reincarnation.
After Kagome travels back through time and reappears fifty years after Kikyo's death, an ogress tries to pull her reincarnated soul into a clay body made with Kikyo's bones and ashes. Kagome appears to suffer no permanent harm, but a small part of her soul detaches and reanimates the new body with Kikyo's memories, personality, and human appearance. Although Kikyo retains some of her old powers in this form, she remains technically "dead" and must absorb the souls of dead women in order to move. At first, she wants to vengefully drag InuYasha to hell and kill Kagome to recover the rest of her soul. However, Kikyo gradually returns to her former compassionate nature and learns that Naraku caused the real circumstances of her death. She protects Kohaku, saving his life, and finally dies peacefully in InuYasha's arms after Naraku attacks her.
In the anime adaptation, she is voiced by Noriko Hidaka. In the English dub, she is voiced by Willow Johnson.
One day, representatives of the Y?kai Taijiya (lit. demon exterminators) entrusted her with the protection of the Jewel of Four Souls. They determined that only a Miko of great purity and power would be able to purify and protect this jewel from misuse. It became Kikyo's destiny to spend her life guarding this Shikon no Tama lest it fall into the wrong hands, for the resulting evil and chaos would wrend the entire country.
She was killed by Naraku and 50 years later was resurrected by an oni witch from her holy bones. She needs dead humans souls to stay in the resurrected body, so she gets help from Shikigami to get those souls. Later, after a failed attempt by Naraku to kill her at Mt.Hakurei after creating a new body, she is seen with two Shikigami that have human form: Kochou and Asuka.
At first after her resurrection, she is spiteful and angry towards both Inuyasha and Kagome. Eventually, she returns back to her post-death state of compassion and kindness, protecting others and eventually dying in Inuyasha's arms after protecting Kohaku from an attack by Naraku.
Kikyo carries a traditional red Saigu-Yumi (literally Priestess Bow) and a quiver of Hamaya ( "evil-destroying arrow" or "demon-breaking arrow") fletched with white feathers. She has the ability to imbue each arrow with great spiritual power that has destroyed, disabled or sealed any Yokai or other evil to date.