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Shirahige Shrine Torii Study I


Shirahige Torii is a beautiful "floating" torii located a few meters off Lake Biwa (Biwa-ko), the largest lake in Japan.

The religious structure is right in front of the Shirahige-Jinja Shinto shrine in Ukawa, just south of the city Takashima.

Shirahige Shrine, which translates into "white beard" in English, is dedicated to Sarutahiko Ōkami (猿田毘古大神, 猿田彦大神), a kami, or object of veneration of the Shinto faith, in this case, a spirit, husband of Ama-no-Uzume (天宇受売命, 天鈿女命), the female deity (kami) of the dawn.

Sarutahiko is depicted as a large man with long white hair, a bushy white beard, a prominent nose, and a spear in his hand. He is considered, among other things, the deity of longevity and grants divine blessings for marriage, luck, childbirth, and travel.

Tradition places the shrine's origins around 2,000 years ago, but it is believed to have been built around 1600, while the torii at Shirahige Jinja, including the floating one, are much more recent.

The torii in the lake was built in 1937 thanks to an Osaka merchant and was replaced with the current one in 1981.

The religious gate is located about 60 meters from the shore and reaches a height of about 10 meters.

I took this image with a long exposure of about 80 seconds at 5.30 pm on May 30, 2010, just before sunset, with the sun to the right of the frame.

The weather was excellent, the sky clear, and only a few residual clouds on the horizon.

A light wind was blowing from the north, and on the horizon, Oki Island (slightly to the left of the torii in the photograph) was shrouded in a light mist.

These were the conditions I hoped to find because, from this location, I was looking for an ethereal, pure, very spiritual image that would convey the emotion and magic of the shrine and its history.

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