Why the Torii Gate of Shinto Shrines Has a Red Color

The other day, I wrote about the type of Shinto shrines. As I mentioned in the article, there are broadly 6 types of Shinto shrines in Japan, and the most common is the one called “Jinja (神社)”.

As it is said that there are more than 80,000 Shinto shrines around the country, every and each city in Japan has some to dozens of Shinto shrines in it, mostly Jinja.

Therefore, if you have a chance to visit somewhere in Japan, it is relatively easy to find Shinto shrines in the city, so let’s drop in. You can enter the precincts of almost any Shinto shrine for free.

Torii (鳥居)

Motonosumi-Inari Jinja in Nagato Yamaguchi

Before you go into the precincts of a Shinto shrine, one or some or hundreds of gates will welcome you.

The gate of the Shinto shrine is generally called “Torii (鳥居)”, and passing the gateway to the precincts means that you are entering the divine space.

Meaning of the Red Color 

Red-Colored Torii Gate

If you visit a dozen Shinto shrines, you will notice that the majority of the Torii gates have a red color. Actually, there are several reasons why many Torii gates of Shinto are coated with red.

In ancient Japan, the color, red stood for the dynamics of life. Because of that, it was believed that red had the power to drive away evil spirits so that the color was used in sanctuaries.

It seems influenced by that the majority of Torii gates of Shinto shrines now have a red color.

Inari-Fushimi Taisha (稲荷伏見大社) in Kyoto

Inari-Fushimi Taisha in Kyoto

By the way, of all Shinto shrines, “Inari-Fushimi Taisha (稲荷伏見大社)”, located in Kyoto, has the largest number of Torii gates, amazingly about 10,000 Torii!

According to the official website of the shrine, the red color of its Torii gates represents plenty of power of the god “Inari Ookami (稲荷大神)” or “Oinari Sama (お稲荷様)”.

Address: 68 Fukakusa-Yabunouchi-Cho, Fushimi-Ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture (Google MAP)

(Reference Pages: Oonominato Jinja, Inari Fushimi Taisha )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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