November 21, 2018
By Yuki Fujimoto, Sena Yagi and Misaki Kodama
What is a Torii?
Torii is an entrance gate at a shrine. It is said that it separates the world people inhabit from the world gods inhabit. So the gate is an entrance to the world which gods inhabit.
There is a torii in every shrine and most of these torii are similar in shape. But there are 3 rare toriis in Kyoto. So we will introduce Mihashira torii, Ishidorii and Karahafu torii for you.
① Kaikonoyashiro ( 蚕ノ社 )
The first rare torii is Mihashira torii in Kaikonoyashiro. It is not an official name, the official shrine’s name is Konoshimanimasuamaterumitama-shrine. ( 木嶋坐天照御魂神社 ) the shrine is related with Hata-uji ( 秦氏 ). Hata-uji were ancient people who came from China and carried on the tradition of sericulture. So Kaikonoyashiro enshrines a god of fiber.
There are two toriis at the shrine, one at an entrance and another on the grounds of the shrine. The rare torii is on the ground of the shrine. A normal torii has two columns. But the rare torii has three columns and those three torii face toward three shrines which are related with Hata-uji, Shimogamo shrine, Fushimiinari shrine and Matsuo shrine. Stones are piled on the center of the torii and tamagushi is put on the stones. Tamagushi is a kind of decorative object which is an offering to a god. It marks a place in which a god is laid to rest.
There was a pond at the torii some time ago and it has dried up. It is called Mototadasu-no-ike. Tadasu is meaning to “to fix rightly”. The torii became the place in which people who have committed some sin and want to clean their souls can come. That’s why it is said people who bathed their feet in the pond water don’t get a disease. Even now the pond is replenished by pumping in some groundwater during the shrine’s event season. Then they will reproduce the old days. Visitors can wade in the healing waters in July which features a festival called Mitarashi-matsuri ( 御手洗祭 ). If you are interested in this rare torii and you want to clean your soul, please go to Kaikonoyashiro.
There is no parking area. There is no entrance fee. The shrine is always open, so you can visit when you like.
From JR Kyoto station to JR Hanazono (花園) station and walk about 10 minutes. Go straight toward the west after you exit the ticket gate. Go under Route 162 and the turn left at croft and stay on the road. Then you will see the shrine on the right hand side.
Take a Kyoto City bus 【28】at Kyoto station on the north side and get off at the Nishiojishijo (西大路四条). Wait for a Kyoto City bus【11】there and take it to Kaikonoyashiro.
Address: 50 Uzumasa-Morigahigashicho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto
TEL: (075) 861-2074
- Tomouji Shrine ( 伴氏社 )
Tomouji Shrine is a small shrine and torii in the precincts of Kitano-Tenman-gu Shrine (北野天満宮).
The shrine is very old, so its foundation date is unknown. Is it clear that the shrine was constructed far in the past.
Originally, the Imiake pagoda (忌明塔) was built here, but early in the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) the Imiake pagoda was moved south, next to Higashimuki Kanonji (東向観音寺), then Tomouji shrine was constructed here.
Tomouji Shrine, is dedicated to Prince Michizane Sugawara※’s mother. Michizane Sugawara’s mother is a patroness of education and her reputation as a good mother is high. She was also a poet. Her worshipers pray for the growth and scholastic accomplishments of their children
※Michizane Sugawara (845 – 903) lived in the middle of the Heian Era (901-1068). He was a courtier, Sinologist and writer.
What does “Tomouji”mean?
Toumouji is called after Michizane Sugawara’s mother who was a native of Tomouji (it is came from Otmouji).
Because she is from Otomouji (one of the Japanese old ethnic group), people called so.
This torii is called Ishidorii (stone torii) it was made in the Kamakura Era (1185 – 1333). It is appointed in a Japanese art treasure.
The characteristics of Tomouji shrine
This torii is called “Renza torii “. Renza means lotus pedestal. ②Gakuzuka (frame) Gakuzuka is something like signboard notified at the highest point of the torii’s frame. The normal torii has a Gakuzuka under the under Shimaki※, but this torii is different because Gakuzuka penetrates under Shimaki and reaches Kasagi※.
Location of Tomouji Shrine
San no torii (三の鳥居) is located near Kitano-Tenman-gu Shrine (北野天満宮)
Kitano-Tenman-gu (北野天満宮) 〒602-8386 Kitano, Bakurocho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi Tenman-gu Shrine office
Take a Kyoto City bus 50 or 101 at JR Kyoto station, then get off at the Kitano-Tenman-gu mae ( 北野天満宮前 ).
Opening and closing time of the tower gate
From April to September from 5:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.
From October to March from 5:30 a.m. to 17:30 p.m.
The shrine office, is staffed from 9:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.
There is no admission fee.
③Itsukushima shrine: Karahafu Torii
◎What is Karahafu Torii?
⇒It is at Kyotogoen (京都御苑) which is Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社) and one of the three great Torii of Kyoto. Karahafu Torii was built in Mie in old times. After that it was built at Kyoto in 1772.
◎Why is it called Karahafu Torii?
⇒ There are two common styles of Torii. They are Shinmei Torii and Myojin Torii. Most Torii are either Shinmei Torii or Myojin Torii. But Karahafu Torii is neither of these styles. It is called Karahafu Torii which ⑦Shimagi and ①Kasagi is Karahafu style. Karahafu style is a rare Torii in Japan because it is the only one in this style. Karahafu Torii which was at Mt. Mikami (三上山) in Shiga in olden times. So it is also called Mikami Torii. (It is written in 2 styles in kanji三上鳥居 or 御上鳥居.)
⇒Shinmei Torii. ⇒Myojin Torii
In old times, Kiyomori Taira (平清盛) was built to honor his mother from Hiroshima. And now, it is an important cultural artefact, recognized by the Japanese government.
In addition, it is one of the branches of Itsukushima shrine in Hiroshima.
◎Recommended spot at Kyoto Goen.
(九條池) has especially good scenery of Kyoto Goen. People can look all over Shusui-tei (拾翠亭) . Shusui-tei can be seen only from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. During the rest of the week, it is rented for tea ceremony or gathering of haiku poets or other cultural events. If you come to there on Friday or Saturday, you should go to Shusui-tei.
⇒A view of the scenery in June. ⇒A view of the scenery in August.
◎Where is it?
Kyoto Goen Itsukushima shrine
Address: Kyotogyoen Kamigyo-Ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Japan 602-0881
Access : Kyoto city subway Karasuma line Marutacho station (7 minutes walk)