One of my favorite images of Japan are Japanese arches, called torii, written with kanji characters that mean “where the birds are” since birds like to perch on them. Unlike most traditional architecture which are based on imported Chinese forms, torii arches are a uniquely Japanese creation. Generally found near Shinto shrines, the arches are essentially “sacred gates” which mark the barrier between the unclean world we inhabit and the purified area around the shrine. Japan loves to come up with formal lists the “the best three” this or that in the country, and if you like Japanese arches you can make plans to visit the Nihon Sandai Torii or Three Great Japanese Arches someday. They are the famous “Floating Arch” at Itsukishima, near Hiroshima, the huge arch at Kasuga Shrine in Nara, and Kehi Jingu Shrine in Fukui Prefecture.
I love torii (Japanese arches). Shrine Maidens aren’t too bad either.