Those who have visited Shinto (native religion of Japan) shrines in Japan may recall passing beneath one or more large gates (mon) at the entrance to the shrine complex. These distinctive structures are called torii in Japanese and are thought to mark the boundary between the secular world and the sanctified grounds of the shrine. In passing beneath a torii one is, in fact, making his or her initial approach towards the inner sanctuary, and accordingly many Japanese will first bow before stepping under the gate. Shinto shrines may include multiple gates, and paths within the shrine may be lined with dozens of closely set torii which together create the effect of a long, enclosed corridor. Believers may use their walk through such passages as an aid in helping to clear their mind of worldly distractions and in preparation for making an appearance before the enshrined deity. Torii gates are traditionally made of wood though it is not uncommon to see gates made of metal, concrete, stone or other durable material. Many wooden torii are unpainted and over time will take on a beautiful weathered appearance much in keeping with the shrine’s natural-looking landscape. Torii are often produced using local timber and therefore shrines which are located in high mountain forests may feature torii constructed simply from a few rough cut conifers. Such torii blend in nicely with the surrounding forest and are emblematic of the Japanese love of nature. Though the torii has become a symbol of Japan as a country it is nevertheless a very unique and important part of the Shinto religious tradition.
About the Listed Item
Brand new, small model Shinto Inari-style torii wooden shrine gate. Adhesive pads at the base of each of the gate’s pillars allow the torii to be secured in place when on display. This gate is held together through the use of old style wooden pegs and is made of high quality Hinoki Japanese cypress. This is the prime variety of Japanese cypress and has been known and used in Japan since ancient times. Its habitat extends from the mountainous reaches of Fukushima prefecture on the Japanese island of Honshu, south to the island of Shikoku. Hinoki is favored by Japanese craftsmen who appreciate it’s resilience and resistance to cracking, high density and light weight. Hinoki has long been the preferred wood for the making of Shinto ceremonial objects. The Shinto religion places great emphasis on purity, and the clean white appearance and pleasant fragrance of freshly planed (Japanese craftsmen rarely use sandpaper) hinoki make it perfect for the manufacture of religious implements. This particular style torii is suitable for use with small kamidana god shelves dedicated to the deity Inari or in any setting where one might wish to impart the spirit and essence of Japan. Please read below to learn more about the god Inari and click here to see an unpainted version of this same torii for use with any kamidana shrine.
Inari is the name of the Japanese Shinto (native religion of Japan) god who watches over and protects the rice harvest. As rice has long been the staple food of the Japanese, this god is obviously very important, and shrines to Inari are reported to number more than 20,000 in Japan. Inari’s messenger is the magical, shape-shifting fox or kitsune as it is called in Japanese. Images of foxes are commonly seen flanking Inari in paintings of this god, as well as guarding the entrance to Inari shrines. Inari messenger foxes are said to possess the ability to hear and see all human activities as well as to transform into human form (usually a bewitching woman). Inari fox messengers are said to grow in power as they age and will only gain a tail (a symbol of power) after reaching the ripe old age of 100. Fox messengers are most powerful after they have lived for 1000 years at which point they may have a total of nine tails, grey or white fur and will have attained the power of infinite vision. Fox lore is common in Asia, though it is normally thought to have originated in India. Some Asian cultures view the fox as a strictly malevolent creature, though it Japan it is just as often portrayed as a powerful, yet kind creature with a genuine interest in the welfare of humans.
Height: 6.2 inches (16.0 centimeters)
Width (at top): 7.6 inches (19.5 centimeters)
Width (at base): 6.0 inches (15.5 centimeters)
Weight: 1.7 ounces (48 grams)
More about the Shinto religion
Shinto is one of the two major religions of Japan (the other is Buddhism). Shinto is often considered to be the native religion of Japan, and is as old as Japan itself. The name Shinto means “the way of the gods.” Shinto is a pantheistic religion, in which many thousands of major and minor gods are thought to exist. The Japanese have built thousands of shrines (jinja) throughout the country to honor and worship these gods. Some shrines are huge and are devoted to important deities. Other shrines are small and may be easily missed when strolling along roads in the countryside.
Shinto gods are called kami. Kami are thought to have influence on human affairs, and for this reason many Japanese make regular pilgrimage to community shrines in order to offer prayers to local kami. The act of prayer involves approaching the shrine structure, passing through the gate-like torii, cleansing the hands and mouth with water and possibly ascending stairs to the main entrance of the shrine. Usually without entering the shrine the worshipper will throw some coins into a stone or wooden collection box and then rattle the suzu bell which is at the top of a long hemp rope. The worshiper grabs hold of the rope and shakes it back and forth causing the copper bell at the top to rattle. This is thought to get the attention of the shrine god. The worshipper then bows twice, claps his or her hands twice and then bows again. In addition, the worshipper may clasp their hands together in silent prayer. Shintoism and Buddhism have managed to find a comfortable coexistence in Japan. Evidence of this harmonious relationship is found in the fact that that most Japanese are married in a Shinto shrine, but buried by a Buddhist priest.
item code: INV-0000113_02
category code: (toriimon)
ship code: G3