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A gatelike structure placed on the grounds of, or on a path leading to, a Shinto shrine. It functions both as a gate marking the sacred space and as a symbol of the shrine. The basic structure of a torii is two columns, on top of which is placed a top rail; a little below the top rail is another horizontal rail affixed to both columns. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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