You will not travel far in Japan before seeing a torii, a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance to a Shinto shrine.
They first appeared in Japan over a thousand years ago, the oldest existing stone torii having been built in the 12th century and belonging to a Hachiman Shrine in Yamagata prefecture.
Torii were traditionally made from wood or stone, but these days you will also find them made of reinforced concrete, copper, stainless steel or other materials. They are usually either unpainted or painted vermilion with a black upper lintel. Inari shrines typically have many torii because those who have been successful in business often donate torii in gratitude to Inari, kami of fertility and industry. 
Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto has thousands of torii, each bearing the donor’s name.This is the best place to get your fix of torii.
Komainu are a pair of guardian dogs or lions often found on each side of a shrine’s entrance. In the case of the Inari Shrines, they are foxes (see picture below) rather than dogs.One of many torii gates at the World Heritage Listed site at Nikko.A timber torii at Nikko.This one in a Tokyo park seems purely for decoration.A utilitarian torii in central Matsumoto, overshadowed by the ugliest edifice in the town.
One of the three top rated scenic views – and possibly the most photographed torii gate in the world? – in Japan. Itsukushima Shrine is another World Heritage Listed site built over water and its associated torii gate appears to be floating on the water at high tide. It is less than an hour’s train and ferry commute from Hiroshima.
Be patient, your turn will come.
© AJapaneseDiary, 2013 ongoing. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without the express and written permission of this blog’s author and owner is strictly forbidden. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.