During an in class discussion on Japanese architecture, we were put in groups and asked to present various subtopics Japanese design. My group got the architectural elements and I spoke on Japanese Gateways.
Japanese gateways are commonly known as “Torii” found at the entrance of or within a Shinto Shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines. They are however a common sight at Japanese Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temples.
There are various types of Torii but it characteristically consists of two cylindrical posts topped by a crosswise rectangular beam extending beyond the posts on either side and a second crosswise beam a short distance below. The top beam often curves upward. Some authorities relate the torii to the Indian torana, others to Manchurian and Chinese gates. Often painted red, the torii demarcates the boundary between sacred and ordinary space.
Torii were traditionally made from wood or stone, but today they can be also made of reinforced concrete, copper, stainless steel or other materials.