Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Kyoto
Fushimi Inari Taisha steps

Fushimi Inari-Taisha is an important Shinto shrine in Kyoto characterised by the torii path leading to the peak of Inari mountain.

A torii is a gate structure symbolising a transition into a more sacred space, the route up the mountain can therefore be seen as a journey toward an increasingly more scared space culminating with the small shrine at its peak.

Although the torii do not provide shelter the simple, repeated form begins to take on architectural characteristics; the torii define volumes and link spaces, provide direction, express purpose and form a coherent entity in the landscape.

Fushimi Inari Taisha wood

The notion of elemental forms sitting in nature and being contrived into an architectural entity brings to mind the mythical arcadian beginnings of (western) architecture described by Marc-Antoine Laugier.

The torii are regularly spaced over short distances, however this spacing varies from abutting each other near the start of the path through to wider spacing on the less exposed side the mountain. This leads to different feelings of containment and balance with nature along the route.

As an experience of the senses the bright orange torii contrast with natural colours (whether foliage or snow) and combined with strong sunlight shining between the torii could potentially contribute to a hypnagogic flicker effect (1, 2, 3) and elated feelings.

Fushimi Inari Taisha torii snow wood

Fushimi Inari Taisha torii snow wood peak

Fushimi Inari Taisha torii abutting

Fushimi Inari Taisha torii down