The great Torii
Symbol of Miyajima
Have you seen a photo of the great Torii before?
What is the great Torii？
The great Torii is the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds.
The first Otorii of Itsukushima Shrine was constructed in 1168 and was built about 200 meters offshore.
Height: About :16.6 Meters
Weight: About: 60 Tons
Height of the pillar: 13.4 Meters
Circumference of the pillar: 9.9 Meters
Length of the roof: 24.2 Meters
- Main pillar: Naturally grown camphor tree, approximately 500 to 600 years old, resistant to rotting and protected from insect invasion.
- Sleeve pillars (Sodebashira): naturally grown cedar
- Roof: Cypress bark thatching
Architectual style: 4 smaller torii (supporting the main pillars with 4 smaller pillars) The present image was buit in 1547, during reconstruction.
Distance from Itsukushima Shrine:
From Haiden, the main prayer hall: 212.7 Meters
From the Hitasaki Lantern: 173.4 Meters
Date of construction: The present greatTorii was built in 1875, and is the eighth Otorii in history.
The best time to view the great Torii
During high tide, the great Torii looks like it is floating on the sea. It is especially beautiful to view the great Torii from Hitasaki. During low tide, you can walk to the foot of the great Torii.
The best time to take photos is at dusk when the great Torii stands out against the golden sky.
Why is the great Torii impervious to the weather? It does not move, nor fall, in spite of typhoons or earthquakes.
- The base of the great Torii is not buried deep in the seabed, but stands by its own weight.
- It stands on 6 pillars, and both the main pillars and the small pillars make it secure.
- The box shaped upper part of the great Torii is filled with about 7 tons of stones, each as big as a human fist.
- Custom made wedges are driven into the intersections where the pillars and roof meet, absorbing slight movements and helping to balance the pillars and the roof.
- The sea level section is strengthened by pine stakes, and an alternative foundation is made of stones.
The vermilion color of the Torii
The vermilion color of the shrine and of the O-torii is considered to keep evil spirits away. As for Itsukushima Shrine, the shrine buildings are coated with vermilion lacquer, which is also efficient as protection from corrosion.
Structures Designed as National Treasures
Designated as a Specially Preserved Building on April 5, 1899.
Designated as a National Important Cultural Property on December 26, 1963.
Legendes, mythologie and origin of Torii
One of the theories about the origin of the torii is as follows. When the Goddess Amaterasu hid herself in the heavenly cave (ama no iwato), the world was shrouded in darkness. The other spirits arranged for the "eternal long crowing birds" (cockerels) to roost and crow, and then Amaterasu came out of the cave and the world regained the light.
Since then people made roosts for cockers in front of shrines and that may have been the origin of the torii.
The Plate on the great Torii
The plate on the great Torii was painted by the Arisugawa no miya Imperial Prince, Taruhito. He was a talented successor in a family of calligraphers, and was the ninth head of the family. He was also a commander during the Busin war, the Seinan war, and the Nissin war.
The sun and the moon are painted on the east and the west of the Otorii roof. Because the northeasterly direction is considered to be the demon’s gate in Feng Shui, The painted sun is said to block this demon’s gate.