Torii, the sacred portal of Japan 鳥居

Torii au Japon

Torii au Japon


Another door to Japan

Japanese shrines often have a door before their door: the torii. These portals mark the border between the secular world and the sacred space of the shrine, and have become particularly characteristic symbols of religion in Japan. Discover here their characteristics, their origin and their history!

To do this, they installed roosters on a perch just in front of the entrance to the cave.

The name of the rooster, and the term designating the birds is pronounced tori (pronounce toli) almost like the name of the portal which is pronounced torii (tolii by lengthening the ii) and which is written with the kanji of the bird: "tori "associated with another ideogram.

For some, this legend would explain the origin of the name of the portal but also the fact that a portal is placed at the entrance of Shinto holy places because following this event, people would have started to build perches for birds. in front of the entrance to the sanctuaries.


The sanctuaries hidden in the heart of the vegetation

Torii en pierre à l'entrée du temple bouddhiste Shitennô-ji


There is sometimes a torii at the entrance of a Buddhist temple without there being a Shinto shrine in its enclosure. This is the case of the Shitennô-ji temple in Osaka, the oldest Buddhist temple in the country, erected in 593. There is a huge stone torii , which replaced the original one which was made of wood and which burned down. during a fire in 1294.

In the Shinto religion, the torii is a door that allows humans to access the spiritual world , protected by a divine force, then to come out to return to our secular world. Thus, the belief is that when you enter through a torii , you have to exit through the same portal in order to be able to return to the real world. Some Japanese do not hesitate to bypass a torii gate if they are not sure if they are coming back the same way or if they feel too unclean to enter a sacred space.

Ambiance mystique au torii du sanctuaire de Hakone

Ambiance mystique au torii du sanctuaire de Hakone


Le grand torii d'Hakone-jinja

The great torii of Hakone-jinja

Jerome Laborde

As for " the alley with 10,000 torii of Fushimi Inari-taisha" , in Kyoto, his photo goes around the world every day. There, there is not a torii but several thousand which climb the path of the hill which leads to the sanctuary.

These portals were bought by businessmen or companies who, by offering a torii, hope to obtain the blessing of the gods. It's also a way to get some publicity. On the posts of the portal, they had their name written as well as the date of installation. The cost of a location for a small torii starts around 40,000 yen (around 340 euros) and can go up to over 1 million for the larger ones.


Torii of Itsukushima Shrine

Torii of Itsukushima Shrine.


Fushimi Inari

Les torii de Fushimi Inari.

Elian Peltier

Latest Articles

Red spider lily: How to grow and care for this enchanting fall-blooming bulb

The red spider lily (Lycoris radiata) is a striking fall-blooming bulb known for its vivid red flowers that seem to appear magically on bare stalks.

Japan Visitor - manyoshu20195.jpg

The Manyoshu: Japan's oldest and most renowned poetry anthology

The Manyoshu, meaning "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves", is the oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry.

Japan Visitor - mask20192.jpg

Unmasking the Mystique and Allure of Traditional Japanese Masks

Masks have been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries, dating back to at least the 6th century.

See All (368)