Torii (gateway) of the Itsukushima Shrine

Torii (gateway) of the Itsukushima Shrine

The torii is a traditional Japanese gate built at the entrance of shrines.

Visual Arts

Keywords

Itsukushima Shrine, Itsukushima, torii, gate, sacred district, sanctuary, World Heritage, camphor tree, Shintoist, Japan, Japanese, religion, religious buildings, 19th century, flood tide, ebb tide

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Scenes

  • 16 m (52.5 ft) high

  • 16 m (52.5 ft) high

Narration

The torii is a traditional Japanese gate also found in several other Asian cultures. Its origins, however, are unclear.

The function of a torii is to mark the entrance to a shrine as well as the boundary between the sacred world of a shrine and the mortal, profane world. Nowadays, toriis are most commonly found at the entrance to Shinto temples.

Japan's most famous torii is located at the entrance to the Shinto temple on Itsukushima Island. Since the torii is surrounded by water at high tide, it is also called the floating gate. While the original torii at the Itsukushima Shrine was built in the 12th century, the present one was erected in 1875. Even the material of which this special 16 m (52.5 ft) high gate is made is unusual: it is camphor wood.

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