Culture Point 18: Types of Torii

Found all across Japan, the Torii Gates can usually be spotted at the entrance or inside a Shinto Shrine, and they mark the entrance from the profane to the sacred.

However, there are many types of Torii! In the picture below you can find some of them.

From the upper left corner:

1 - Shinmei Torii - One of the two big families of Torii. It is famous for its straight parts. Being believed to be the oldest Torii style, it is constituted solely by a lintel (kasagi) and two pillars (hashira) united by a tie beam (nuki). In its simplest form, all four elements are rounded and the pillars have no inclination.

2 - Yasukuni Torii - A subtype of the Shinmei Torii, characterized by a rectangular nuki in section. Can be found at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

3 - Myōjin Torii - The second of the two big families of Torii. On the contrary of Shinmei Torii, this family of Torii also has curved parts.

4 - Kasuga Torii - It is a Myōjin Torii with straight top lintels. The pillars have an inclination and are slightly tapered. The nuki protrudes and is held in place by kusabi driven in on both sides. This Torii was the first to be painted vermilion and to adopt a shimaki at Kasuga Taisha in Nara.

5 - Kuroki Torii - It is a Shinmei Torii built with unbarked wood. Because this type of Torii requires replacement at three years intervals, it is becoming rare. The most notorious example is Nonomiya Shrine in Kyoto. The shrine now however uses a torii made of synthetic material which simulates the look of wood.

6 - Kashima Torii - It is a Shinmei Torii without korobi, with kusabi and a protruding nuki.

7 - Nakayama Torii - It is basically a Myōjin Torii, but the nuki does not protrude from the pillars and the curve made by the two top lintels is more accentuated than usual.

8 - Hachiman Torii - It is almost identical to a Kasuga Torii, but with the two upper lintels at a slant, the Hachiman Torii first appeared during the Heian period.

9 - Munetada Torii - It is a Shinmei Torii (straight lines) with a slight change in form. The best example of it is the second Torii in the Munetada Shrine in the Yoshida Hill, Kyoto.

10 - Naiguugen Torii - Famous for its 8-sided pillars and the kasagi being a pentagonal prism, with both sides diagonally cut.

11 - Ryoubu Torii - Also called Yotsuashi Torii (lit. four legged torii), the Ryōbu Torii is a Daiwa Torii whose pillars are reinforced on both sides by square posts. The famous torii rising from the water at Itsukushima is a Ryōbu Torii, and the shrine used to be also a Shingon Buddhist temple, so much so that it still has a pagoda.

12 - Sannou Torii - It is Myōjin Torii with a gable over the two top lintels. The best example of this style is found at Hiyoshi Shrine near Lake Biwa.

These are just some of them! There are many many more!

2014. The Year of the Horse. My Year.

Being the last post of this year, this is only the second post of this month, which somehow tells a lot about my recent daily life. However, the last post of the year is something I can't definitely pass without writing, as it serves as both a review on the year that passed, and a kind of motivation to face the year that follows. So here we go:

JANUARY - snow

After a surprise trip to Portugal, and a couple of days spent with my family, back to Japan.
The same landscape as in the year before, and another 3-day preparation for the marching performance that would take place in the following month.

FEBRUARY - marching

And it came. My second marching performance, and by far the one I enjoyed the most. It was really refreshing and motivating. Also, for the first time I had a lot of friends to come and see me on stage so I was specially happy for it :)

MARCH - bonds

This month I traveled a lot, not to faraway places, but more like close trips, kind of rediscovering my surroundings. It was a month when bonds were deepened. With others, and with myself.

APRIL - sakura

As the year before I had gone to Portugal in March, this was the first time I could fully enjoy the beauty of Japan's most famous flower, the cherry blossom.
Also, it was the beginning of a new school year, which was certain to be a tough one.

MAY - trip

Another trip, another month full of fun things to remember! Not much to add on this one, just that discovering new places with the people I like may be the best thing ever!

JUNE - may disease

The famous may disease. Funnily enough, it started a little late for me. That feeling of incompletion, when you have a lot of things to do but can't find the motivation to do a single one. As I explained before, it is a common feeling for Japanese, as a new year starts (in April) and you return to your work/school, but find it is not exciting anymore. In Portuguese we would say that "the engine doesn't start".

JULY - turnaround

It was a month where A LOT changed. As if my whole purpose of being alive had become different. It was a month where I started viewing everything from a different point of view. "Should I really be doing this?" or "Do I really like this?" or "If I prefer this over that and I think it is better for me, then why am I still doing that?" were thoughts that invaded my mind all the time. And they still continue.

AUGUST - airplane

The landscape I've seen so many times now. Almost the whole month spent in Portugal with my family. Nice and warm feeling to be with everyone once again. But something is not right... Something is out of place...

SEPTEMBER - purpose

Without a purpose how can you know where to go? Thankfully I found one. And how beautiful the sky is.


And thanks to the unconditional support, I was able to find a job in Japan! At long last, one of my main goals was achieved. Now I can calmly think about other things, and start planning my future from other perspectives!

NOVEMBER - autumn

This might just be my favorite season of all. The feeling of nostalgia, along with a nice weather (despite the clouds in the picture) makes me want to travel everywhere. I love traveling.

DECEMBER - lights

A beautiful month. I feel happy to have been born in December. Thank You.

And goodbye to this great year. It went as fast as a running horse! Hope next year brings a lot of good things for everyone. Have a happy new year everyone!

Japan Guinness World Records: Oldest Living Man

Born in February 1903 in Soma (now Minami Soma), Fukushima, Momoi Sakari (百井 盛), is presently the world's oldest living man with the age of 111 (as of December 2014).

Mr. Momoi became a teacher and later worked as the principal of high schools in Fukushima and Saitama prefecture.

Can you imagine how it must be to experience more than 100 years of world evolution? How was the world 111 years ago?

A few important updates!

Hello everyone!

There is a couple of things which I have been introducing in the blog but still have not properly explained, so here it goes!

- The first one is directed to my fellow Portuguese followers, so forgive me for the message in Portuguese!

Estão a ver aquele botão ali à direita? Agora também podem seguir o blog The Rising Sky no MEO!
Há algum tempo criei um MEO Kanal para o blog e tenho estado a inserir alguns vídeos das minhas aventuras por cá. Espero que gostem!

Basta carregarem no botão verde e inserirem o número de canal 123797!
E não se esqueçam de partilhar com os vossos amigos!

- The second update is directed to everyone!

Recently I have been doing some running sessions alone or with some friends here in Tokyo, and I have been recording my progress with the Strava App! So I decided to create The Rising Sky Running Club so especially anyone with interest in this blog or in Japan and also running or cycling may share their sporting experiences, new roads they find, and so on!

You can find the Strava section in the right sidebar!

If you don't have the Strava App, visit the official website by clicking HERE!

- Last but not least, here is the third update!

Further below in the right sidebar, you can find some "badges" this blog has been receiving. The most recent one is this one:

Yes! "The Rising Sky" is now a Top Expat Blog from Tokyo Recommended by InterNations!

You can click the badge above or HERE to take a look at my interview!

Also, there is another update I did during this week, although it's not directly visible in the blog.
I have changed the hosting server of most of this blog's pictures, as they were not all together, so now I'm hoping that you get faster page loading speeds!

And that's all for now! Keep tuned for more updates!

Best Spot 18: Enoshima (江ノ島)


While not being very far from Tokyo (about one hour away), Enoshima (江ノ島) might be the total opposite of the Japanese capital.

Yes! It is still Japan!

This place is so peaceful, so calm and so beautiful as it is popular! Thankfully, I visited in a weekday so there were not many people around!

The island, situated off the coast of Fujisawa city in Kanagawa prefecture, has quite some nice attractions inside, such as the Observatory Lighthouse, a beautiful garden, streets that go up and down deep into the island, an awesome cave which is said to connect directly to Mt. Fuji (!!) and much more!

But enough of words. Please enjoy the pictures of this beautiful paradise.

(Yes! You can see Mt. Fuji from there!)

For more information, please visit the Fujisawa City Official Website below!

Best Spot 15: Kyoto (京都)

EDIT 22/11/2014: New pictures added! Check the Kinkaku-ji section and the bottom of the post!!

It's been a long time since I posted last Best Spot here, so here goes another one!

I was here digging around my old pictures from when I first came to Japan in 2011, and I found some quite nice ones from Kyoto! Let's take a look at this beautiful city! It will be far from complete but for now let's start!


Kyoto (京都市, Kyōto-shi) is a city located in the central part of the island of Honshu.
With a population of about 1.5 million people, Kyoto was formerly the imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, and now it is the capital of Kyoto Prefecture.

With temples, parks, bustling business districts, markets, from regal estates to the tightly-packed neighborhoods, Kyoto is one of the oldest and most famous Asian metropolises!

As for major tourism spots in Kyoto, we'll start with maybe the most iconic one, Kinkaku-ji.

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺, lit. "Temple of the Golden Pavilion"), officially named Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, lit. "Deer Garden Temple"), is a Zen Buddhist temple founded in 1397 by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga.

It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations comprising the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. It is also one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually.

Below is a painting of the pavilion dated from before 1886, and a picture from the pavilion after the fire.

The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt after being burned down 5 years before.

Another one of Kyoto's must-go spots is Kiyomizu-dera.

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺) is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site.

It was founded in 798 (early Heian period), and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. "Kiyomizu" means "clear water", or "pure water".

Below is Otowa-no-taki (音羽の滝), the waterfall where visitors drink for health, longevity, and success in studies.

The large veranda in the main hall offers impressive views of the city!

To finish this guide, I'll include one more major spot, Nijō Castle.

Built in 1626 by the Tokugawa Shogunate (ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu), the Nijō Castle (二条城 Nijō-jō) is a flatland castle, consisting of two concentric rings (Kuruwa) of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens.

Below are some pictures of its beautiful gardens.

The surface area of the castle is 275,000 square meters, of which 8000 square meters is occupied by buildings.

It is also one of the seventeen assets of Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Kyoto has many more famous places, but that's it for now! When I go to Kyoto again, I'll upload new pictures!


EDIT 22/11/2014: And here they are! Adding to the three new pictures of the Kinkaku-ji above, I'm going to write about a new place I visited in Kyoto recently!

The Ninna-ji Temple (仁和寺) was founded in 888, and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most of the original buildings were destroyed by a fire in the 15th century, and the present ones date from the restoration that took place in the 17th century.

I was very impressed by this temple, as it has a really... how do you say... holy? mysterious? heavy? peaceful? atmosphere. Kind of a combination of those. Really wonderful.

But if it is a really dense and sacred ambience what you are looking for, then behold the next spot!

Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine of Inari, the Japanese God of Foxes.

While I knew this place was really famous and I wanted so much to go, I didn't search much about it before going. And I was really surprised and amazed by the literally infinite number of torii gates there are in this shrine!

If you pass the shrine building and keep going forward, you'll quickly find there is quite a long path ahead of you. In fact, a 4-kilometer trail leads from the shrine to the top of Mt. Inari, passing by many smaller shrines.

Each one of these torii gates has the name of a company in it, as they are donated by those companies. Inari is also the God of Prosperity, so business holders worship it with hopes of bringing good fortune to their companies.

Really really beautiful. I would keep climbing it forever.

But oh well, there are so many perfect places in Kyoto that I can't count them all. Sometimes words aren't needed so just enjoy some more pictures below!