Monday, October 4, 2010


At Shinto shrines, and also some Buddhist temples, Torii gates mark the division between to ordinary world and the sacred space. At the BrickCon gathering of LEGO builders in Seattle this past weekend, the Brothers-Brick organized a collaborative display around the theme "Big in Japan". Robin Sather certainly fit the theme with his massive Torii gate. I'd be curious to learn the translation of the text, which you can see better here. This is technically a ryobu torii, and seems pretty authentic in design. I wonder if it was based on a specific real example.


  1. The "tablet" usually displays the name of the shrine or the kami who is enshrined therein. I can't piece together a full translation, but this one contains the characters for "colt" and "bird" (this is relevant to the meaning of torii: bird perch) on the left and what I would loosely translate as "builder of architecture" on the right.

    It's good to see more Shinto/Buddhism on the blog, especially because there's a strong representation of it by builders (also it's a personal favorite of mine). I have found the the "Oriental Lego" group on flickr is a good resource for related material.

  2. Hey Nathan,

    Thanks for the help with interpretation, and also for the suggestion of the Flickr group. I'm actually a member of that group, but at one point I was joining any LEGO-related group on Flickr, so as a result I'm a member of over a hundred and only really check a couple of them.

    Sometimes I do wonder if Torii in MOCs are meant to have any relation to the religious meaning, or if the builders just see these as some cool aspect of Japanese architecture. The ones I've featured here have been by builders who were (I think) mindful of the significance, and not just some ninja battle MOC with a Torii in the background.

  3. Some quick background I got from Robin Sather as he and his crew were setting this amazing creation up on Thu/Fri: The torii was inspired by the Miyajima Torii near Itsukushima Shrine. Robin said that the characters on the panel were meant to represent "robin" and "builder".