Symbolic gateway marking the entrance to Shinto shrines or other sacred spots in Japan. It has many variations, but it characteristically consists of two cylindrical posts topped by a crosswise rectangular beam extending beyond the posts on either side and a second crosswise beam a short distance below. The top beam often curves upward. Some authorities relate the torii to the Indian torana, others to Manchurian and Chinese gates. Often painted red, the torii demarcates the boundary between sacred and ordinary space.