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Friday, January 23, 2015

What's A Torii?

Above, toriis near Hakusan Park in Niigata. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People just getting interested in Japanese culture who have visited Japan for the first time or have seen pictures of torii gates may wonder, What's a torii?

Above, a torii at Lake Ashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I've been to Japan seven times and I have seen torii gates of different sizes at many places.

But to answer the question what a torii is, here's what Wikipedia says:
A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred (see Sacred-profane dichotomy). The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines, and a small torii icon represents them on Japanese road maps. They are however a common sight at Japanese Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temple's own shrine, called chinjusha (鎮守社, tutelary god shrine) and are usually very small.
The photos that accompany this blog post are just some of the torii gates that I have seen.

The most famous torii gate is the one at the Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima.

Above, the torii gate at the Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

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