One of the surest signs that someone is traversing the glorious country of Japan is when they share a picture of them with stunning torii gates in the background.
Just as a picture of the Dotonburi Glico man, Tokyo Tower, cherry blossoms, and konbini fried chicken are unofficial representations of Japan travels, torii gates definitely join the ranks as a favorite feature when exploring the country.
They’re unique, beautiful, illustrative of the culture, and undeniably Japanese – all of which make them picture-perfect throughout the year.
What is a Torii Gate?
The towering gates, some of which date back centuries before our time, are some of the most symbolic elements of Japanese tradition to withstand the sands of time. Originally built within and around Shinto shrines as a gateway between our human world and the sacred world of Shinto gods, torii gates now serve as iconic monuments throughout diverse parts of Japan.
Torii gates traditionally used to be built with either wood or stone, but recently, they’ve become more experimental with the materials used. Torii gates also used to be left bare or painted a bright vermillion red, but you’ll find all sorts of creative and inspiring torii gate designs throughout Japan these days.
You may have heard of the famous Itsukushima Shrine that ‘floats’ in the water on the small island of Miyajima. You’ve probably heard of and even seen photos of the ever-popular Fushimi Inari shrine of Kyoto, the one with thousands of torii gates leading up to the top of Mount Inari-San.
The 15 Best Torii Gates In Japan
However, there are literally hundreds across Japan that deserve the spotlight. Whilst we cannot fathom listing out every single one, today, we’re going to take you through the 15 most beautiful torii gates in Japan.
Some are classics, some are off-the-beaten-path – but all are worth the effort to experience and explore. Let’s have a look now!
- Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
- Minato Shrine, Miyazaki
- Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka
- Hoshiimo Shrine, Ibaraki
- Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
- Jintoku Inari Shrine, Kagoshima
- Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
- Kumano Hongu Taisha, Wakayama
- Akihansan Hongu Akiha Shrine, Shizuoka
- Takayama Inari Shrine
- Hakone Shrine, Kagawa
- Arakura Sengen Shrine, Yamanashi
- Motonosumi Inari Shrine, Yamaguchi
- Sakurai Futamigaura, Fukuoka
- Eino-o Shrine
1. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
We’re starting off this list with a bang, sharing what is arguably the most popular torii gate attraction across all of Japan. In fact, Fushimi Inari Shrine might just be the most popular attraction of all time across Japan.
Located in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine is home to several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice harvest.
The most distinctive feature of this shrine is, of course, the thousands of bright vermillion red torii gates that start from the shrine buildings, go through the forest, and lead all the way up to the top of Mount Inari-San. Along the way, there are multiple attractions to stop at and explore, including smaller shrines, restaurants, and intersections.
- Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan
- How To Get There: Fushimi Inari is located just outside of JR Inari Station.
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2. Minato Shrine, Miyazaki
The blue hues of the small set of torii gates that sit within Minato Shrine blend in perfectly with the ocean that it’s set against.
Minato Shrine is a small, unassuming shrine on the outskirts of Nobeoka City in Miyazaki. It rarely hosts crowds, so you can bet that it’ll be peaceful and quiet as you take in the beauty of the ocean-side scenery here.
One thing we recommend is trying to get there around sunset so that you can capture the bright blue torii gates with the golden colours in the background.
- Address: Tomimachi, Nobeoka, Miyazaki 882-0016, Japan
- How To Get There: It is recommended that you have a hire car to visit this place, as public transport is scarce.
3. Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka
Osaka is home to a plethora of gorgeous torii gates that you can explore, with Shintenno-ji Temple boasting one of the most impressive torii gates in the prefecture.
Shintenno-ji Temple being on this list might surprise people, as it is a temple, not a shrine. However, it is a perfect example of a balanced fusion between Shintoism and Buddhism that is becoming more and more prominent in Japanese culture today.
Shintenno-ji Temple features an imposing giant stone torii gate right at the entrance of the temple. It’s apparently one of the oldest of its kind, dating back to the 1300s.
- Address: 1 Chome-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, 543-0051, Japan
- How To Get There: The temple is located a short walk away from Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station, or a 10-minute walk from JR Tennoji Station.
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4. Hoshiimo Shrine, Ibaraki
Hoshiimo Shrine literally translates to “dried sweet potato shrine”, and once you visit, you’ll obviously see why!
It was recently renovated in 2022 and given a refreshing new look. Included in this new look are two stunning rows of gold torii gates that lead to the entrance of the shrine. What makes it so popular is definitely the colour – it is quite rare to come across bright gold torii gates anywhere in Japan!
It’s definitely become a popular attraction for Instagram photos and photographers.
- Address: 172-2 Ajigauracho, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki 311-1201, Japan
- How To Get There: This shrine is located a few minutes walk from Ajigaura Station.
5. Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
How could this list be complete without listing one of the most aesthetically pleasing torii gates in Japan?
Itsukushima Shrine is located on the popular island of Miyajima and is home to a gigantic vermillion red torii gate that sits right in the water. When we say gigantic, we mean huge, almost colossal.
It will be very hard to miss.
During high tide, it will appear as though it is floating right on the water!
The gate is unsurprisingly the most popular feature of the shrine, and on any given day, you will witness crowds of people setting up to take photos of this torii gate. It’s definitely one of the books, and we highly recommend this one if you had a pick only a few to visit!
- Address: 1-1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588, Japan
- How To Get There: Itsukushima Shrine is located approximately 10 minutes away from the Miyajima ferry pier.
6. Jintoku Inari Shrine, Kagoshima
Jintoku Inari Shrine is home to one of the rarest forms of torii gates in Japan – the glass torii gates.
Rather than the tall, imposing wooden torii gates that usually sit at the entrance of temples and shrines, the clear, emerald-green glass torii gates at Jintoku Inari Shrine represent how times are changing the aesthetics of traditional religious structures.
There is one glass torii gate situated at the main hall and another at the beginning of the pathway of traditional red torii gates also situated within the shrine.
If you’re looking for uniqueness, you’ll definitely find it here.
- Address: 1771-4 Shineicho, Kanoya, Kagoshima 893-0063, Japan
- How To Get There: It is recommended that you have a hire car to visit this shrine, as public transport is scarce.
7. Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
If you’re not planning to travel outside the urban metropolis that is Tokyo, you won’t be missing out in any way. Located in the heart of Tokyo is Meiji Jingu, the most famous Shinto shrine in all of Tokyo.
This Shinto shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Despite being in the middle of a concrete jungle, it is surrounded by lush greenery and characterised by a huge, imposing wooden torii gate that marks the entrance to the shrine. Traditional aesthetics and cultural elements seep from the sturdiness of this well-recognized torii gate.
During New Year’s Day, millions of people pay a visit to this shrine for the year’s first prayers.
- Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan
- How To Get There: Meiji Jingu is located a few steps from Harajuku Station or Meiji-jingu-mae Station.
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8. Kumano Hongu Taisha, Wakayama
You’ve heard of torii gates made of wood and stone, but have you heard of one made of steel?
Kumano Hongu Taisha is the head shrine of over 3000 Kumano shrines in Japan. It was originally erected in Oyunohara, but due to some flooding, it was moved to a location nearby. It’s one of the 3 grand shrines of Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.
The entrance is marked by an absolute masterpiece of a torii gate, standing at 33.9 meters tall and 42 meters wide. This torii gate has been named ‘Otori’, of which the ‘O’ means ‘big’.
It’s honestly quite impressive in real life, given its size. If you go during the cherry blossom season, you’ll see it surrounded by gorgeous hues of pink.
- Address: 1110 Hongucho Hongu, Tanabe, Wakayama 647-1731, Japan
- How To Get There: It is a 70-minute bus ride from Shirahama Station. It is a 80-minute bus ride from Shingu Station.
9. Akihansan Hongu Akiha Shrine, Shizuoka
Shizuoka is known for being the home prefecture to the prominent Mount Fuji, and it’s also home to Akihansan Hongu Akiha Shrine, a 1300-year-old shrine dedicated to the God of Fire.
For that reason alone, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it boasts a mammoth-sized bright golden torii gate that’s just as unique as it is breathtaking.
Akihansan Hongu Akiha Shrine sits on the mountains, so on a nice, clear day, the golden shrine shines bright against the sea of floating clouds and blue sky.
- Address: 841 Harunocho Ryoke, Tenryū Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 437-0626, Japan
- How To Get There: It is relatively difficult to get to via public transport, so it is recommended that you had a hire car to visit this shrine.
10. Takayama Inari Shrine
Takayama Inari Shrine, located in Tsugaru City, is home to a remarkable set of bright red torii gates that wind a curvy path through the shrine. Visitors are able to walk through this set of torii gates to explore the shrine as well as take photos of the torii gates against the background of extraordinary lush greenery and traditional structures.
The shrine itself is said to be more than 1000 years old, and a visit here will help you ease the mind. It offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and even the Sea of Japan.
- Address: Washinosawa-147-1 Ushigatacho, Tsugaru, Aomori 038-3305, Japan
- How To Get There: It is recommended that you use a hire car to drive to this shrine, however, you may also catch a bus from Gosho Kawahara Station, which will take 40-minutes.
11. Hakone Shrine, Kagawa
This iconic shrine is located on the foot of Mount Hakone, with a backdrop of Lake Ashi and surrounding mountains. As you may have gathered, it is indeed an absolutely stunning place to visit.
The most popular attraction at Hakone Shrine is definitely the tall bright red torii gate which stands right on the edge of Lake Ashino. As more and more photographers caught wind of this stunning picture opportunity, the popularity of this photo spot shot through the roof. Now, if you visit this area, you can expect there to be a line to take a photo.
In saying that, this torii gate attraction is truly iconic and if you’re big on ticking off bucket lists, this is definitely recommended for its beauty alone.
- Address: 80-1 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0522, Japan
- How To Get There: It is a 30-minute bus ride away from Hakone Yumoto Station.
12. Arakura Sengen Shrine, Yamanashi
What if we told you that there is torii gate hidden away in Yamanashi that pretty much frames the famous Mount Fuji?
This picture-perfect torii gate is located within Arakura Sengen Shrine, a breathtaking shrine located near Kawaguchiko that dates back many centuries.
In springtime, this is an extremely popular place for people to visit for the cherry blossoms and photo opportunities, and picnicking spots. It’s definitely a bucket-list items for those visiting Japan, especially if you want to combine two quintessential Japanese icons into one photo.
- Address: 2-chome-4-1 Asama, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi 403-0031, Japan
- How To Get There: It is a 10-minute walk from Shimoyoshida Station.
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13. Motonosumi Inari Shrine, Yamaguchi
Motonosumi Inari Shrine sits on the edge of the coastline, right up against the ocean. It boasts a pathway of 123 torii gates that start at the top of the shrine and ends up at the edge of the cliff that overlooks the ocean.
It’s definitely up there as one of the most awe-inspiring torii gate structures you’ll ever come across. CNN has even labelled it as one of the most beautiful places in Japan!
If you’re game, there is a small money box hanging from the entrance torii gate. It is said that if you make a wish and manage to toss a coin into the box, your wish will come true!
- Address: 498 Yuyatsuo, Nagato, Yamaguchi 759-4712, Japan
- How To Get There: It is recommended that you have a hire car to visit this shrine, as public transport is scarce.
14. Sakurai Futamigaura, Fukuoka
Sakurai Futamigaura is neither a temple, nor is it a shrine. In fact, it’s simply a beach that’s located in Fukuoka. It’s most famous for its iconic view of the ‘Meoto Iwa’, or the married rocks couple (literal rocks that look as though they represent a married couple).
However, it’s also home to a grandeur white torii gate that sits on the short. The bright white torii gate is unique and quite beautiful in its own way. It actually belongs to the Sakurai Shrine, but that is located roughly 2.5km away from the beach itself.
The best time to visit these gates and take photos would be sunset, when the skies turn golden.
- Address: Shimasakurai, Itoshima, Fukuoka 819-1304, Japan
- How To Get There: It takes 30-minutes by bus from Chikuzen-Maebaru Station.
15. Eino-o Shrine
We’ve saved the most mysterious one for last.
Eino-o Shrine is a small, unassuming, and extraordinarily quiet shrine located in Uto Peninsula. This quiet coastal town has yet to make it mainstream and is a wonderful getaway for some R&R.
It’s been undiscovered for a long time, but Eino-o Shrine is home to a stunning floating torii gate that’s centered between two floating stone lanterns. During sunset, the scenery here is simply magical.
- Address: Einoo-658 Shiranuhimachi, Uki, Kumamoto 869-3471, Japan
- How To Get There: It is a 15-minute bus ride from Matsubase Station.
Japanese torii gates sit amongst castles, temples, and shrines as some of the most iconic Japanese structures that you can witness in this day and age.
There’s something quite ethereal about visiting them and standing underneath them, knowing that they’re believed to be the pathway between this world and another.
Our advice is to take the time to appreciate the beauty, tradition, structure, and surroundings as you make your way through this list. You truly won’t come across anything like Japanese torii gates anywhere else.