A nihongo|torii|鳥居 is a traditional Japanese gate commonly found at the entry to a Shinto shrine, although it can be found at Buddhist temples as well. It has two upright supports and two crossbars on the top, and is frequently painted vermilion. Some torii have tablets with writing mounted between the crossbars. Traditionally, torii are made of wood or stone. In recent times, makers have started to use steel and even stainless steel. Torii mark the transition from the sacred (the shrine) to the profane (the normal world) (see Sacred-profane dichotomy).

Inari shrines typically have many torii. A person who has been successful in business often donates a torii in gratitude. The Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto has thousands of such torii.

The origin of the word "torii" is not known. One theory is that it was designed for birds to rest, as hinted by the kanji, which may be derived from 鶏居 meaning 'chicken perch'. This is because in Shinto, birds are considered messengers of the gods. A second theory is that it is derived from the term "tōri-iru" (通り入る: pass through and enter).


Torii may have originated in India. [ Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System (2001). "torii".] ] The Indian gateway archs, the torana, reached East Asia with the spread of Buddhism. [Encyclopedia Britannica (2008). "torii"] Some scholars hold that it derives from the torana gates at the Buddhist historic site of Sanchi (3rd century BCE - 11 century CE).Through Chinese influence the gates reached Japan.

Purpose of torii at Shinto shrines

Torii mark the entrance to sacred space in Japan. Passing underneath a torii on the way to visit a shrine is, along with washing one's hands and mouth with water, an act of sanctification and purification before approaching the kami to pray.

For this reason, people who are in a state of uncleanliness are not permitted to approach a Shinto shrine for prayer as their uncleanliness would defile the grounds. Examples of uncleanliness in the Shinto tradition include a woman who is menstruating or anybody who has lost a relative in the past yearFact|date=March 2008. When a Japanese person suffers a death in the family, he or she will go to Buddhist temples instead of a Shinto shrine to offer prayers for 1 year, including for the essential first visit of the new year, "Hatsumoude". Fact|date=March 2007

Other uses

Similar structures can be found in Tai societies, and also exist within Nicobarese and Shompen villages. Compare also to torana, in Hindu and Buddhist architecture (India, Nepal).

The torii is sometimes considered a symbol of Japan. For example, it is the symbol of the American 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and other US forces in Japan. [ [ DefenseLINK News: Revised Helmet Patch Immortalizes World War II Troops ] ]

With the strong relationship between Shinto shrine and Imperial family, a torii is built in front of the tombs of each Emperor.

ee also

* Paifang
* The Gates

External links

* [ Myojin Torii] en icon


*cite web | url= | title=Historical Items about Japan | publisher=Michelle Jarboe| date=2007-05-11 | accessdate=2007-06-18

*cite web | url= | title=Torii | work=Encyclopedia of Shinto | publisher=Kokugakuin University | date=2005-06-02 | accessdate=2006-10-10

*cite web | url= | title=Torii-Gate | work=NYC24| publisher= Jim Higdon | date=2005| accessdate=2007-06-18

*cite web | url= | title=Torii Gate | work=Humanities Department| publisher= University of California Santa Cruz |date= March 2006 | accessdate=2007-06-18

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • torii — torii …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • torii — [ tɔrii ] n. m. inv. • 1882 tori; mot jap. ♦ Arts Portique ornemental des temples japonais shintoïstes. ● torii nom masculin invariable (mot japonais) Portique de pierre ou de bois, quelquefois de bronze, précédant, au Japon, l entrée des temples …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • torii — [tō′rē ē΄] n. pl. torii [Jpn < tori, bird + i, nominal form of iru, to be, exist: birds offered to the gods were to perch on the crosspiece] a gateway at the entrance to a Japanese Shinto shrine, consisting of two uprights supporting a curved… …   English World dictionary

  • torii — singular and plural, gateway to a Shinto temple, Japanese, from tori bird + i to sit, to perch …   Etymology dictionary

  • Torii — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Torii (homonymie). Le torii du temple d Itsukushima Un torii ( …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Torii —    The distinctive archway which marks the approach or entrance to a Shinto shrine (see Jinja). It typically consists of two round uprights (hashira) supporting a two layer upper cross beam (kasagi supported on shimagi) often curving up slightly… …   A Popular Dictionary of Shinto

  • Torii — Elemente eines Torii Torii (jap. 鳥居, zu Deutsch etwa „Vogelsitz“) sind Elemente der traditionellen japanischen Architektur. Es handelt sich dabei um Tore aus Holz oder Stein (seltener auch aus Eisen, Bronze oder Beton), die oft zinnoberrot… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • torii — /tawr ee ee , tohr /, n., pl. torii. (in Japan) a form of decorative gateway or portal, consisting of two upright wooden posts connected at the top by two horizontal crosspieces, commonly found at the entrance to Shinto temples. [1720 30; < Japn …   Universalium

  • Torii — Este artículo o sección necesita referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como revistas especializadas, monografías, prensa diaria o páginas de Internet fidedignas. Puedes añadirlas así o avisar a …   Wikipedia Español

  • torii — Portal simbólico que precede la entrada a un templo sintoísta o a otros lugares sagrados de Japón. Hay muchas variantes del torii, pero básicamente consiste en dos postes cilíndricos rematados por una viga rectangular atravesada que rebasa los… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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