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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Shrine Architecture
Tōrō
A fixed lantern or lamp found either within a shrine's precincts (keidaichi) or one of the shrine structures, and provided as a place to provide votive lights for the shrine. Lamps and lanterns were originally a fixture of Buddhist temples, but they were later adopted at Shinto shrines as well. Most of those found outdoors are the large stone type. Rows of suspended metal lanterns are frequently found within the verandas or passageways of shrine buildings. Other materials may include wood and porcelain, and lamps may be found in other styles including a variety of hanging and movable standing lamps, each chosen in accordance with the location and purpose involved. Large permanent stone lamps form a characteristic feature of the scenery at the entrance to many shrines, and some shrines observe rites or festivals in which all lamps are lighted at once. An example of this custom can be seen in the festival of "myriad lamps" (mantōrō) observed in the precincts of Kasuga Shrine (Nara). Most such lamps have been dedicated by parishioners and worshipers, and are frequently inscribed with the names, residences, and occupations of the subscribers, thus forming an important record of the history of the shrine cult.

-Mori Mizue
Metal lanterns at Kasuga Shrine

Nara Prefecture, 2006

©Tsujimura Shinobu

Stone lanterns at Kasuga Shrine

Nara Prefecture, 2006

©Tsujimura Shinobu

Metal lanterns at Kasuga Shrine

Nara Prefecture, 2006

©Tsujimura Shinobu

Scenes from the Man-tōrō festival at Kasuga Taisha.

Nara prefecture, 2006

©Ōsawa Kōji

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