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Storyline: The series begins with Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen year old girl in modern Tokyo.  Kagome lives with her mother, grandfather, and younger brother (Sota) that live in an old shrine that their family has taken care of for generations.  On Kagome's 15th birthday her life is turned upside down when a centipede youkai from within the sealed well at her temple pulls her through the well into another time.

Kagome being pulled through the well by the centipede

Kagome emerges from the well to find that she had been transported back in Japan during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States era) during the Muromachi period around 1467-1568 A.D.  Where powerful warlords fought battles for land and power.

Kagome meets up with an old priestess by the name of Kaede who is the village elder for a small outset village.  Because of her appearance she is thought to be a spy from another country, but Kaede reveals the fact that Kagome is almost the exact copy of her older sister, Kikyou, who died over fifty years ago after having sealed a dog-demon (InuYasha) that was trying to steal the Shikon no Tama. Kagome later discovers InuYasha while running from the centipede and un-pins him from the tree were he was struck to by Kikyou.

After Kikyou's death she cremated along with the jewel and the Shikon jewel disappeared from that age forever. Kagome doesn't believe this herself till she is wounded in battle by the centipede youkai and the jewel strangely comes out of her body.  Kaede holds this as a definite proof that Kagome is Kikyou's reincarnation and is destined to protect the Shikon no Tama from youkai that wish to seek it for its powers.

Kikyou is cremated with the Shikon no Tama

Kagome's first look at InuYasha

By accident, the jewel is shattered by Kagome and Kaede tells Kagome and InuYasha that they must go across Japan and search the jewel together.  Kagome and InuYasha reluctantly team up bickering at each other non-stop throughout the journey, which they later team up with Shippou (a young orphaned fox demon) , Miroku (a perverted monk) , and Sango (a youkai exterminator) .

Later in the story they find out that InuYasha and the long dead Kikyou were possibly in love. InuYasha originally planned to use the jewel to become human for Kikyou, which he had never gotten to do because of Naraku, (reincarnation of Onigumo) who fell in love with Kikyou. Naraku takes the form of InuYasha and steals the jewel from Kikyou-wounding her in fatally. Because of this, Kikyou was seriously injured and in her anger, she shot InuYasha with an arrow that sealed him to a tree for fifty years.  A type of love triangle seems to form when InuYasha starts to see Kagome as not just Kikyou's reincarnation, but as a whole new person.  He becomes fiercely protective of her even though he will never admit it.

As time passes, Kikyou is revived by an evil sorceress, Urasue.  InuYasha is torn between keeping his promise to her and keeping Kagome by his side.

History on the Shikon Jewel: 

There was a time when ogres, dragons, and other demons merged their bodies together to wage a battle. They fought against one powerful human. A priestess who lived many centuries ago. The court nobles controlled the country at that time. Wars and fathoms dragged on and on. Countless people perished. Demons devoured the dead and the near dead and they were able to grow in great numbers. Many priests and warriors set out the slay them, but only one priestess, known as Midoriko, was able to purify demon's souls and render them harmless. She was considered the most powerful human of her time. In her world, humans, animals, trees, even stones were all created through the four souls. The fours souls are called:

Nigimitama: Friendship
Kushimitama: Wisdom
Sakimitama: Love

When they are combined they become the soul of one person housed inside the heart. When the four souls or spirits work together in harmony, it is call Naobi and the human heart is filled with goodness. When somebody does a bad deed the four souls energize evil and the human loses his way. In other words, a soul can turn good or bad. This transformation can happen within a human soul or demon soul. This is why Midoriko was a formative foe towards the demons. Because she was able to purify their souls and make them powerless, but she has not lost the battle yet.

Another picture of Midoriko

After battling for seven days and seven nights a demon got it's fangs into Midoriko. With her last ounce of energy she reached deep within her own body for strength and ceased the demon soul. But in doing so, she forced out her own soul.What flew out of her was in fact the shikon jewel. She wasn't able to purify the demon's soul. All she could do was to cease and imprison it with herself. Although the flesh is gone, inside the sacred jewel a battle still wages between Midoriko and the demons.

Midoriko is now in a stalagmite.

Shikon no Tama broken down means:

"shi" = four
"kon" = soul  
"no" = possessive 
"tama" = round object

Jewel of Four Souls is the overall translation.

The Jewel of Four Souls is the crystallized soul of Midoriko, the powerful warrior miko who died in battle with a mass of combined youkai. The Shikon no Tama contains the sealed souls of the youkai as well, and inside the crystal Midoriko's battle wages on.

As in the story, Kagome can sense these fragments, which the fragments convey as much power as the whole jewel by itself.  Having more fragments means that much more power.