The most famous torii from Japan is undoubtedly the O-torii of the Itsukushima Shrine from Miyajima. This is a truly magical place, one of the Nihon Sankei (Three Views of Japan) and also the home of some of the most beautiful legends… One of them is an old story about the origins of the Japanese torii, an interesting version of a well known legend about the origins of Taiko drummers.
It is told that after Amaterasu-ōmikami, the Sun Goddess, hid herself inside the sacred cave, the world plunged into darkness. The other kami tried then to find a solution to convince Amaterasu to return to the world, so they brought in front of the cave some roosters and their crowing made Amaterasu get out to see what was happening.
After that, in front of the Shinto shrines, people started to build roosts for the birds - and in time, these roosts became the today’s torii.
In Japanese, “tori” 「鳥」 means bird, and torii is written 「鳥居」, so torii can be interpreted, indeed, as a “roost for birds".
Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: Takeuma, the Japanese Stilt Walking