As someone who is very interested in anything and everything about Japan, I always wondered what the “Torii Gates” in Shinto shrines stand for. I mean, they just give off this unique feeling as if you're about to enter a different world (at least in my opinion).

Like the name suggest Torii in Japan literally means bird's abode. With that said, you will only find them on Shinto shrines and not on Buddhist Temples. Since shrines and temples in Japan go hand in hand, this is a good way to differentiate between the two. If you visit a place with a torii gate, that means its Shinto, if not then Buddhist temple easy right? Actually, there are some Buddhist temples with torii gates so this rule isn't really set on stone.

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Shintoism and Buddhism were the two major religion in Japan since the early days. Some of these shrines and temple have a very harmonius relationship that they tend to co-exist peacefully as good neighbors.

The torii gates seems to play a very interesting role in religion. It is said that the torii gates divide the spirit world and the real world, in simpler terms the torii gate is a gateway. Once you enter the gate, it means that you had entered the spirit world (since shrines are considered to be holy places, spirits dwell wihin them). This is also the reason why, people wish and pray on shrines so that the spirits of the land can hear them and grant their prayers.

So the next question is, Why are most torii gates painted in vermillion (red) and orange color? This is another interesting fact about torii gates as if they are following a certain rule. Well, according to what I had researched the color acts as some sort of protection against calamity and evil spirits. Some say that the color red symbolizes lifeforce that helps repel evil spirits, others say it represents the strength of the kami (god) that resides within the shrine grounds.

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Can more than one torii gate be present in a shrine? The answer is yes. In fact, the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto have a thousand torii gates. The shrine is dedicated to the God Inari (Shinto God of Rice). So why are there a thousand of them? These torii gates were donated to the shrine by successful individuals (companies and other businesses) who also worship in the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

With that said, not all torii gates are painted in vermillion and orange. There are simple and ordinary gates made of wood and stone that are present in some shrines all over the country. In other shrines by the sea, a rope is tied between two rocks which acts as the torii gate.

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To be perfectly honest, I was hooked by this concept and I even used the torii gate as my wallpaper in my PC and my cellphone. Now my PC and celphone are now gateways to the spirit world! (Yeah right!)

Well then, I hope you enjoyed reading and once again... join me next time as we embark on a journey to find the most interesting things that is uniquely Japan!