10,000 Torii

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha - Kyoto, Japan

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha – Kyoto, Japan

What makes Fushimi Inari-taisha special? Sure, it’s a beautifully renovated Shrine in the historic city of Kyoto. But there is one feature that makes this place special. Or perhaps I should say there are 10,000 reasons for its uniqueness. This shrine has 10,000 or more Torii gates, which are the symbols of Shinto Shrines.

The shrine is located on a mountain and there are several paths up the incline with thousands of torii standing next to each other. Enough to create a tunnel of sorts through the wooded mountainside.

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha - Kyoto, Japan

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha – Kyoto, Japan

Each of the torii was donated by a business. While the front of the torii is plain, as seen at in the first photo, the backside is carved with the business’ name, address and date.

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha - Kyoto, Japan

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha – Kyoto, Japan

Not all torii are made of vermillion painted wood. There are stone ones too. But the vast majority, line up efficiently and neatly, in Japanese fashion, are the wooden variety. The newer ones are a crisp and vivid red, while the older ones are faded and even rotting slightly.

Donation amounts vary to get your business listed on a torii. Some are as low as a 175,000 yen (about 1,750 dollars) while the most expensive are 1,302,000 yen (about 13,000 dollars). I wonder if those small cute ones in the center of the photos are the discount variety. I’m sure, the large impressive ones you walk through are $13,000, which doesn’t seem so much, if it brings good luck and a thriving business. I wonder if those donations are tax-deductible?

Are there really 10,000 torii? Apparently, no one knows for sure. They probably count the really small ones too, as part of the torii inventory.

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha - Kyoto, Japan

Torii, Fushimi Inari-taisha – Kyoto, Japan

Taking nice photos of the torii was more challenging than expected. Since my visit three years ago, when there were hardly any tourists, I was shocked this time by the hoards of visitors. Getting a clean shot without any people required much patience. Ever since this place hit the top 10 must visit sites in Kyoto, the tourists have flocked here.

Unlike the six photos for my detailed Fushimi Inari-taisha series, I shot these photos with the Olympus PEN-F and Olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6 lens. I used a slow shutter speed to maximize image quality, keeping the ISO near 200, which necessitated a 1/13 of a second or so shutter speed.


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7 thoughts on “10,000 Torii

  1. Hi. Have been waiting for this post. Can’t show images about FUSHIMI INARI-TAISHA with out showing the torii. 😁 thanks for this series. It has been enjoyable to see and read your commentary.

      1. Yes, was there last year. And like you struggled to get any images without other tourists. Had this romantic view of the torii that was shattered when i discovered they are all sponsored and labeled. But still worth fighting the crowds to see and experience (and photograph).

      2. Nice. Glad you visited Japan.

        Yes, it’s kind of interesting about the sponsorships. At least they don’t have colorful logos on them ;-). That would truly be disappointing.

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