Japan 2017, Part 4 — Sacred

Lawrence Ripsher
May 30, 2017 · 2 min read

The final part 4 of a series (Part 3, Sumo can be found here).

Last time I was in Japan, I wrote a post about the gates which mark the entrance to all Shinto shrines. Torii, as they are called, have an important symbolic meaning which has stuck with me ever since:

A torii (鳥居, literally bird abode, /ˈtɔəri.iː/) 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.

From the profane to the sacred. It’s such a powerful phrase — one that has lodged itself in my mind. While I was traveling, I also read Phil Knight’s book “Shoe Dog” which is essentially the autobiography of Nike. Throughout, he recalls multiple story of his own time in Japan which was intertwined with the history of Nike. Several times he recalls the same phrase — from the profane to the sacred — and it had a lasting impact on him. So much so that on the floor of the stadium of the Matthew Knight Arena, which he and his wife named in honor of his late son, is an image of a torii gate. Symbolism is powerful.

Here are a few photos of my encounters with some sacred locations. There’s a mix of both Shinto (shrines, torii) and Buddhist (temples).

Torii at Lake Kinrin in Yufuin, Kyushu

Futago-ji temple near Oita in Kyshu. This is a breathtaking temple with a history of more than 13 centuries

More images from temples in the mountains of Futago-ji. The temple itself was built into the rock of the mountain

One more from Futago-ji. This place is really something.

Torii at Amano Yasukawara cave. Surrounded in legend, this location forms part of the story of the modern birthplace of Japan. One of the most sacred sites in all Kysuhu

Sometimes it’s the smallest, most unassuming shrines that I remember the most. This torii was in Fukuoka city, sandwiched between a building a car park.

Lawrence Ripsher

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I write about product management, photography, travel and startups. Currently running Product @ Pinterest.

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