Three Rare Torii in Kyoto

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.




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




  1. 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.





Itsukushima 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




⇒Karahafu style


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.

Kujo pond

(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)




by Miho Hosotani, Keita Kitagawa, & Takuma Osawa

What is Daimonji-yaki?

Daimonji-yaki is original Japanese culture, and one of the most famous events in Kyoto. In this event, kanji characters are marked on the mountain side and illuminated by fire. This ceremony is held during Obon, on the 16th of August. Obon is one of the Japanese national holidays, and according to Buddhist legend, is when the souls of dead people return and we receive them.

Daimonji-yaki is set on the sides of five mountains in Kyoto, and the burning proceeds in order from East to West: Daimonji → Myoho → Funagata → Sadaimonji → Torii . They continue to burn for about one hour.

1. Daimonji

Daimonji is a kind of opening ceremony to kick off Daimonji-yaki, and its origins date back between 300 years and 500 years.

It is also called Joseigata, which in English means female style, because of the slender and beautiful character used.

Light up starts from 20:00.




2. Myoho

Myoho, the second one, comes from Japanese religious belief. People dance a bon-odori (Japanese traditional dance at the top of the mountain, and the character is lit 10 minutes after Daimonji, at 20:10.



3. Funagata

Preparation for Funagata, the third one, starts from early morning on the 16th. At night, accompanied by the sound of a temple bell, people light it 5minutes after Myoho at 20:15. Once the ceremony is finished, the chief priest and other workers talk about it inside the temple.




4. Sadaimonji

The fourth one, Sadaimonji has a shorter history than Daimonji, Myoho and Funagata. It is called Otokogata, which in English means male style, because it is thicker and stronger than Daimonji. If we compare it with Daimonji, Funagata, and Myoho, Sadaimonji it is newer, but it still has more than 300 years of history. The light up time is the same as Funagata, from 20:15.




5. Torii

Preparation for the last one, Torii, starts from 20.00 on the 16th. It is said to be the grandest and most beautiful of all five. Originally, Torii is the gate that marks the territory of the gods. It is the fastest burning of the five, so it is called the ‘Fire runner’. People call these five stages of the burning ceremony Gozan Okuribi.

Daimonji-yaki is well known to foreigners, so Kyoto is frequented by tourists every summer looking to view it. Originally, ”Daimonji-yaki” took place as a memorial service for ancestors during the Bon Festival. The Bon Festival is a ceremony to welcome spirits, a bit like Halloween. Daimonji-yaki is made using the Chinese character 大, which is composed of three lines. The first horizontal line measures 80 meters; the second, 160 meters from the top down to the left; and the last 120 meters from the horizontal bar down to the right. As it is so large, we can see it clearly even from far away on a summer’s night. The local people call it Daimonji-San, and through this, we can see how much it is loved by local people. During World War Ⅱ it was cancelled, but thanks to the strong mind of Japanese people and their actions, an understanding was reached to revive it and continue the beauty of its form to this day. From now on as well, we hope to see every year this beautiful flame as part of Japanese traditional culture.

The interesting modern history of Daimonji-yaki

Due to fears of making Kyoto an easy target for Allied bomber planes during the Second World War, Daimonji-yaki was cancelled in 1943. However, with the Japanese spirit of ganbari, the ceremony, was continued by using local school kids as a substitute for the flaming markers. They climbed the mountain to make a giant white 大 wearing white T-shirts. This was repeated the following year in 1944; however this was to be the last Daimonji ceremony until its official revival in the year 1946, following the end of the Pacific war.

For several years leading up to 2011 pine trees from Rikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture had been imported and used in the okuribi ceremony. However, due to fears of radioactive contamination stemming from the 2011 Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster the organizers of the event put a ban on the use of Iwate pines on the 6th of August. The decision to cancel was met with severe protest and the organizers of the event were flooded with phone calls demanding the decision be overturned. Caving to this pressure, the organizers of the 2011 event decided that they would use the imported pines until a test definitively proved the presence of the radioactive material cesium, which solidified the organizers’ resolve to ban the use of Iwate pines.

Access to Daimonji

There are two ways to access the best viewpoints for Daimonjiyaki:

1. Kyoto City Bus: From Kyoto Station Bus Terminal catch bus number 17, and get off at the “Demachiyanagi” stop. It takes about 20 minutes, depending on the traffic and costs 220 yen.

2. JR Kyoto: From Kyoto JR Station, take the Nara line, train to Tofukuji Station and change to the Keihan line, take the north bound train and get off at Demachiyanagi terminal. It takes about 30 minutes, and costs about 480yen.

From our experience, we recommend you to take the train, because during this season a lot of tourists come to Kyoto, from inside Japan, as well as from all over the world. Last year, we went to Daimonji-yaki ceremony separately and planned to meet there, but it was impossible and we couldn’t find each other until the ceremony had finished and most people had disappeared. We hope you like it and enjoy your summer vacation in Kyoto!

Thank you.


Asahi Shinbun, 2011, Cesium detected in Daimonji-Yaki firewood – usage of Iwate pines to be discontinued, accessed 5th December 2013, <>

The Second Kyotoism Blog, Daimonji: gozan okuribi sono futatsu, 2011, accessed 5th December 2013 <>

Kioto-shi Kankou Kyoukai, accessed 5th December 2013 <>

Abe no Seimei und der Seimei-Schrein

Ein ganz  besonderer Schrein

von Kosuke Mitani und Takuya Tamba

Im Stadtbezirk Kamigyo-ku in Kyoto befindet sich der berühmte Seimei-Schrein (Seimei-jinja), in dem der in der Heian-Zeit (794 – 1192) als Onmyoji bekannte Abe no Seimei (921-1005) verehrt wird. Als Onmyoji bezeichnete man damals Zauberer und Wahrsager. Außerdem bekannt war er für seine Kenntnisse in der Astronomie. Um seine Person ranken sich verschiedene Legenden, zum Beispiel sagt eine Legende, dass seine Mutter ein Fuchs gewesen sei.
Erbaut wurde der Seimei-Schrein auf dem Gelände von Abe no Seimeis ehemaliger Villa. In vielen Teilen Japans gibt es Schreine mit dem gleichen Namen, denn Abe no Seimei ist in Japan besonders bekannt und beliebt. Er erschien in einer Vielzahl von Filmen und Romanen.

Foto der Statue von Abe-no-seimei am Seimei-Schrein in Kyoto

Statue von Abe-no-seimei

Foto der Frontansicht Statue Abe-no-seimei am Seimei-Schrein

Frontansicht Statue Abe-no-seimei









Im Seimei-Schrein gibt es verschiedene Stellen, die mit der Geschichte von Abe no Seimei verknüpft sind. Die Haupthalle des Schreins ist seiner Person gewidmet. Eine Statue Abe no Seimeis wurde nach einem Portät von ihm gestaltet.
Außerdem gibt es den berühmten „Seimei-Brunnen“ (seimei-i),  dessen Wasser aus  Seimeis Willenskraft hervorgesprudelt sein soll. Man glaubt, dass das Wasser dieses Brunnens die Macht haben soll, Krankheiten zu heilen. Besucher haben die Möglichkeit, das Wasser aus dem Brunnen zu trinken.

Foto des Seimei-Brunnens

Der Seimei-Brunnen

Foto des erstes Tores (ichi-no-torii)

Das erste Tor (ichi-no-torii)

Ebenfalls berühmt ist das „Erste Tor“ (ichi-no-torii) des Tempels. Daran hängt eine Eisentafel mit einem goldenen Wappen.
Am Handwaschbecken chozuya kann man seinen Körper von Sünde und Unreinheit befreien. Bevor man den Heiligen Bezirk betritt, sollte man sich hier reinigen.
Eine weitere Besonderheit ist der Glückspfirsich (yakuyoke-momo), der im Schrein aufgestellt ist. Er ist aus Metall. Wenn man mit der Hand darüber streicht, soll das Glück bringen, da von dem Pfirsich geglaubt wird, dass er nach dem Gesetz von Yin und Yang von dem Bösen befreien könne.
Natürlich gibt es am Schrein auch noch Amulette und Glücksbringer zu kaufen.
Neben den hier vorgestellten Besonderheiten gibt es im Seimei-Schrein noch viele weitere interessante Orte und Dinge zu sehen. Ein Besuch dort lohnt sich auf jeden Fall.


Vom Hauptbahnhof Kyoto: Am besten nimmt man die Buslinie 9 und steigt an der Haltestelle Seimei-jinja-mae aus.  Von dort aus etwa 2 Minuten zu Fuß. Der Seimei-Schrein befindet sich 12 Minuten zu Fuß von der U-Bahnstation „Karasuma-Imadegawa“ entfernt. Der Eintritt ist frei.

Santuário Fushimi Inari

by Tomoe Tsukada; Kanako Takahashi; Nami Yamada

1 O que é Nô?

Eu estou aprendendo o teatro nô no clube da universidade e gostaria de apresentar alguns lugares famosos de Quioto que têm relação com esse teatro. O que é o Nô?
É um musical tradicional do Japão. Tomou a forma presente entre os séculos XV e XVI. Até hoje, esta forma não mudou quase nada. A dança, a canção, as roupas, as máscaras são iguais às de 500 anos atrás.

2 O Nô e o santuário Fushimi inari

Existe uma peça de Nô que tem relação com o santuário xintoísta Fushimi Inari, um dos maiores e mais famosos de Quioto. O titulo da peça é Kokaji, a história de um ferreiro, fabricante de espada, chamado Munechika. Esse personagem existiu realmente no século Ⅹ.
Um dia, Munechika recebeu a visita de um enviado imperial com uma ordem do imperador para que fabricasse uma espada de alta qualidade e beleza. Mas para malhar o ferro, precisava de mais uma pessoa com experiencia igual à dele. No entanto, ele não tinha nenhum discípulo e, sem saber o que fazer, resolveu visitor o santuário Fushimi Inari para pedir aos deuses a sua ajuda.
No meio do caminho, ele encontrou um menino que, na verdade , era o deus Inari disfarçado. Este menino encorajou-o e prometeu–lhe ajuda. Ele disse: “Depois de voltar à sua casa, faça um estrado e me espere. Munechika voltou então para casa e fez o estrado para malhar o ferro. Assim que ele começou a rezar apareceu o deus Inari e malhou o ferro junto com Munechika. Por último, Munechika inscreveu seu nome na espada e , ao lado, o deus gravou a inscrição “Kogitsune”, que significa “raposa pequena”. Assim se fabricou a espada de alta qualidade. Depois de terminado o trabalho, o deus Inari montou em uma nuvem e desapareceu na montanha de Inari.

Os deuses de Inari em Nô

3 O santuário Fushimi inari

Este santuário presta culto ao deus do arroz, desde antigamente o alimento mais importante para os japoneses . Há uma lenda sobre nascimento deste santuário: Um dia um homen chamado Hatano Kimiirogo atirou uma flecha para um alvo feito de bolo de arroz, “mochi” . Este mochi , ao ser atingido pela flecha, transformou–se num pássaro branco e voou para longe. No lugar onde o passaro pousou, nasceu um pé de arroz. Aí, Hatano kimirogo construiu o santuário de Inari. Por isso,o nome da santuário, Inari significa “ nasce um pé de arroz”.  Não se sabe ao certo, mas estima–se que tenha sido construído por volta do ano no 711. O que chama a atenção quando entramos é a quantidade de estátuas de raposas. A raposa é considerada um mensageiro do deus do arroz porque este animal caça os ratos que comem os grãos de arroz.

Uma outra peculiaridade do santuário que encanta os turistas é a fileira de portais (torii) pintados de vermelho ao longo das escadarias. Existem cerca de 10000 torii. Isto também tem uma razão: o deus do arroz, Inari, era originalmente reverado pelos agricultores. No entanto, com o passar do tempo, esse deus se multiplicou passando a ser reverado também por comerciantes e pessoas de outras ocupações. Os portais dos santuário foram oferecidos por pessoas que tiveram seu pedidos realizados pelo deus Inari.

☆Acesso ao santuário Fushimi Inari
Pegue o trem de linha de Nara na Estação de Kyoto e desça na estação de Inari.




Im Jahre 794 verlegte der Kaiser Kanmu
die Hauptstadt von Nara nach Kyoto, und
nannte sie „Heian-Kyo“. Der Schrein wurde
im Jahre 1895 zum Andenken an den 1100.
Jahrestag gebaut. Der Schrein ist den Seelen
der Kaiser Kanmu und Komei geweiht. Der
Kaiser Kanmu baute die Hauptstadt
„Heian-Kyo“ und der Kaiser Komei ist der letzte Kaiser, der in Kyoto wohnte. Außerdem gibt es im Schrein einen großen heiligen Garten, den „Shinen

- Warum ist das Torii so weit vom Schrein entfernt? -

Die Entfernung zwischen dem Torii und dem Haupttor wirkt seltsam. Das Torii ist für jeden Schrein ein unentbehrliches Element. Das Torii bezeichnet einen Eingang zur heiligen Welt (Schreinbezirk). Aber das Torii des Heian-Schreins steht mitten auf einer öffentlichen Straße.

Ist die Straße heilig, die zwischen dem Torii und dem Schrein liegt? So ist es nicht. Auch der Platz gehörte bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg zum Schrein. Aber zum Beginn des Krieges machte der Schrein der Regierung mit dem Platz ein Geschenk. Darauf wurde die Straße gebaut.

- Tiger und Drache -

Am Eingang des Schreinbezirks gibt es rechts und links ein Becken, an dem man sich vor dem Gebet den Mund und die Hände spült um die Seele zu reinigen. Auf jedem Becken steht eine Figur aus Stein, auf dem westlichen steht ein Tiger, auf dem östlichen ein Drache. Die Tiere sind nach altchinesischem Glauben Schutzgötter für je eine Himmelsrichtung.



Norden - schwarze Schildkröte
Süden - roter Spatz
Osten - blauer Drache
Westen - weißer Tiger

- Hochzeit im Schrein -

Man kann im „Kaguraden“ Hochzeit feiern. „Kagura“ bedeutet „die Musik, die Göttern dargebracht wird“. Bei einer Hochzeit im Schrein wird diese Musik intoniert. Manchmal sieht man in der Nähe vom Ausgang des heiligen Gartens Hochzeitsgesellschaften.

Eine Hochzeit

- Drei Gebäude -

„Der Daigokuden“, der Hauptbau im Schrein, besteht aus drei Gebäuden: Der Gaihaiden steht allen Besuchern offen. Die übliche Andacht besteht aus 3 Teilen, auf Japanisch „Nirei, Nihaku, Ichirei“ - „zwei Verbeugungen, zwei mal Klatschen, eine Verbeugung“
zwei Verbeugungen: Dank an die Götter
zwei mal Klatschen: Die eigene Existenz den Göttern kundtun
eine Verbeugung: Die Bitte für künftige Wünsche

„Mit den Wölfen muss man heulen“. Komm, machen wir „Nirei, Nihaku, Ichirei“!

Naihaiden → Man kann nur eintreten, wenn man die Götter anruft.
Gohonden → Nur Schinto-Priester können eintreten. Dies ist der heiligste Bau, weil er den Seelen von Kaiser Kanmu und Kaiser Komei geweiht ist.

- Lasst uns Sake mit Bier vergleichen!-

Im Heian-Schrein stehen ein Kirschbaum und ein
Tachibana-Baum (eine Art Mandarine), von dem
man jedes Jahr 100 kg Früchte erntet. Daraus
werden Süßigkeiten (Waffelkuchen mit Marmelade und Gelee) und Sake gemacht. Diese Waren kann man nur am Kiosk im Schrein kaufen, deshalb sind sie etwas ganz Besonderes. Der Tachibana-Sake ist wie ein süßer Wein. Außerdem hält man im Osten die Früchte für Ambrosia. Probieren Sie mal.

- Eine andere Welt? -

Der Heian-Schrein liegt an der Straße, aber man kann eine heilige Ruhe erleben, wenn man in den Garten „Schinen“ eintritt. Zu jeder Jahreszeit sieht der Garten anders aus. Es gibt Tiere und Pflanzen, ein Paradies. Eine Brücke (Taiheikaku) führt über einen großen Teich und lädt dazu ein zu verweilen und die Geschöpfe im Teich zu betrachten.

So kommt man zumHeian-Schrein Vom Kyotobahnhofmit dem Bus Richtung Gion Nr. 206mit dem Bus Richtung Iwakura oder Ginkakuji-Tempel Nr. 5

und zu Fuß ca. 3 Minuten

※Steigen Sie aus an der Haltestelle „Kyoto-Kaikan Bijutsukan

mae” (Vor der Kunsthalle Kyoto)

Öffnungszeiten 6:00 – 18:00 Uhr
Ruhetag Nur am 22. Oktober am Nachmittag(Wegen eines großen Festes)
Eintrittsgebühr Kostenlos (der Eintritt zum Schinen kostet 600 Yen)