Every visitor who has ever been to Japan must have seen a post and lintel structure that is commonly painted in black and red. The structure is called a Torii (鳥居) (fig.1). It is a Japanese shrine gate that is usually found to be the entrance of or within a Shinto Temple. On a map of Japan, the icon of a Torii appears as the symbol of the location of a religious temple located. Just like a Torana in India, a PaiFang in China, and a Hongsalmun in Korea, people think Torii is just a gate to a temple. Even many of the local Japanese people don’t know the meaning or cultural background of the Torii because it is so common and can be seen everywhere in daily life. The Torii’s architectural features, symbols, function, and origins demonstrate
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Even though they were separated in 1868 and Shinto became the State religion, there are many shrines and temples that still show traces of religious syncretism today. Thus, the Torii became the entrance of not only a Shinto shrine but also a temple that has both a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple. In other words, the Torii is a symbolic structure that conveys both of the major religions of Japan. It significantly represents the transformation of the history of Shinto and Buddhism.
Along with its significance in religions, the Torii also marks the importance on the culture of Japan. The icon of a Torii appears on maps, in drawings and prints, as well as artworks and crafts. For example the Torii has appeared in Ukiyo-e prints as a popular subject in Japan. In 1982, calling cards for public phones appeared in Japan, and Torii was selected and became the background of some of those phone cards. The icon of a Torii also usually symbolizes where a temple or a tourist spot is located on a map or a road sign. The miniature version of a Torii also commonly appears in a gift shop or a Japanese culture store. All of these examples indicate the importance of the Torii in Japanese culture.
Moreover, there are many Japanese myths and stories that are associated with Torii. For example, Fushimi Inari shine in Tokyo is famous for its Senbon Torii