Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photos if you need help reading the characters on this torii (shrine gate) and the plastic cone. They were part of the scenery when we paid a visit to Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine in May.
The two characters on the torii are read from right to left and carry the meaning of an offering, especially in religious contexts.
The thousands of torii that make Fushimi Inari so unforgettable are vivid examples of such donations, paid for by companies that receive the right to have their names inscribed on the torii in return.
I was struck by how dynamic the atmosphere is, with torii new and old and in between, some clearly on their last legs. In stark contrast, the vermilion paint on others was still wet, as the sign on the cone in one photo warns. The closeup shows another newborn torii, its kanji yet to be painted black.
As we strolled along the path, we looked up and saw a gentleman perched above us on a ladder. When I asked him how long they usually hold up before succumbing to the elements, he kindly took a break from his painting duties to report that 10-15 years is a typical torii lifespan. There’s a constant cycle of renewal here, which seems to echo the timeless natural processes at work in the surrounding forest.
What a magical place!
The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to their order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.
To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.
Kanji In Context(KIC1678, KIC733)