Torii © N.Nomura

What is a torii?

Torii is a gate built in the entrance of a shrine temple and a temple on the way to the shrine. It represents entering a sacred area. They are usually made from either wood or stone, and are often painted in vermilion

Japanese myth about the torii

Torii is written with the kanji "bird" and "existing", but there are no birds in the current torii. So why is it called this? There are several theories, However the most likely of these involves the shinto goddess of the sun, Amaterasu-okami.

In this myth, Amaterasu-okami gets angry with the rough behavior of her brother Susano-onomikoto, and withdraws in a cave of the rock called Amaroi. The myth starts from this scene where the world has no sunlight. With the world having no sun various disasters occurred so eight million gods tried to pull Amaterasu out from the cave in order to stop it. They did so by dancing and setting roosters to crow on trees. Hearing this commotion, amaterasu poked her head out of the cave. The gods then pulled Amaterasu out of the cave and the sun returned to the world and everyone was happy again.

The torii appears in this myth, it represented the chicken on the tree, Since Amaterasu resided inside it, the interior of the torii became known as a sacred place where the Gods live, and therefore is installed at the entrance of a shrine etc.

Spots with famous torii

The following are famous locations for Torii in various parts of Japan.

Kyoto】 Fushimi Inari Shrine

At Fushimi-Inari Taisha shrine you can enjoy the mystical landscape with about 10,000 torii. It is a shrine with various merits such as business prosperity, home safety, traffic safety, etc.

【Mie】 Emperor's Palace Shrine (Ise Shrine Nakomiya)

At Ise shrine you can see a gigantic wooden torii. It is also famous because once in every twenty years, during the year of the shogun, all the buildings of the shrine are rebuilt.

Hiroshima】 Takashima Shrine

At Toritojima Shrine you can enjoy a fantastic scene where it looks like this torii is floating in the ocean at high tide. Usually torii are built at the entrance of a sacred area, but since Miyajima island is the place where the gods live the torii was built on the sea.

Yamaguchi】 Motonagami Inage Shrine

Former Nogami Inage Shrine where the a torii that continues for over 100 meters. It is an impressive shrine with interests such as business prosperity and maritime safety. Sometimes it is shown on American media.

【Arita】 Shoyama Shrine

Arita town of Saga prefecture famous for Arita yaki. It is a porcelain torii of Potayama Shrine that can be found only in Arita. This is a shrine dedicated to the founder of Arita-yaki, dedicated to Lee Pingping, and various other things such as stone guard dogs are made of porcelain besides torii.