Central to Shinto is the belief in divine begins (kami) which traditionally inhabit heaven and earth. Divine status is attached to anything which is striking, elevated and beautiful or possesses outstanding qualities: in brief, anything which awakens a sense of awe. In this way, things of natural beauty, mountains and seas, human beings, plants and animals can become gods. Symbols of every Shinto shrine are the gateways (torii), which in their simplest form are two pillars topped by a cross beam.
This picture is of the famous torii at Miyajima. Miyajima island has been occupied for hundreds of years by emperors and shogun because of it`s beauty and purity. In fact, the government, wanting to maintain the purity of Miyajima, has made it illegal to be born or die on Miyajima. Every day the tide comes in and goes out, allowing the throngs of tourists to poke around on the beach near the base of the gigantic torii. These children were making use of stepping stones, pulling their parents with them.
These classically designed Japanese buildings speak of older times. They could be found in any city in Japan, although these happen to stand on the famous island of Miyajima. The building in the middle is a restaurant that I ended up eating a fantastic meal of cold ramen, boiled eggs, and fresh vegetables.