“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.”
Torii are the gates that mark the entrance to all Shinto shrines in Japan, of which there are an estimated 100,000. Above is the Wikipedia definition of a torii and I love it.
Whether you are in Tokyo or the countryside, you see them everywhere. Whenever I walk through one to enter a shinto shrine, I try to take a moment to recognize that I am passing through something — from the noisy to the peaceful, from the past to the present, or as wikipedia puts it, from the profane to the sacred.
Some of the most famous torii in Japan are world heritage sites. Some are hundreds of years old and made of bronze. Some were designed over a thousand years ago, while many were rebuilt after the bombings in WWII. In a few cases, you’ll see hundreds of the together, and in the case of Fushimi Inari-taisha, you’ll see thousands. Itsukushima Shrine, which I hope to visit one day, was built in the sea and has stood for over a century in water.
However, many more are simply found by the roadside, or tucked away in neighborhoods or quietly residing in forests. These are often the ones you stumble upon accidentally — and are some of the most quiet, serene and beautiful. I happened on a few of these over the two weeks. I’ve attempted captured these below.