As promised, a processed image of one of the paths at Fushimi-Inari-Taisha that lead to the inner shrine. You can see how the path turns to the right by the faint vermillion trail in the (de colourised) forrest.
A Shintō shrine is a holy place that does not exists in this worldly plane, it exists only in a holy place, where the spirits reside. But there are places where the spiritual and the earthly plane overlap, it is at these places where the Shitō shrines are visible in the worldly plane.
These places are marked by special gates, or torii. An entrance gate to where the spiritual and earthly planes overlap a little bit.
This row of torii at Fushimi-Inari-Taisha in Kyōtō, Japan leads, eventually, to the inner shrine. A long winding path (there are actually a few paths that you can follow) of gates leading you towards this special spiritual place.
My guess is that the thousands of torii symbolise each step of getting closer and closer to the spirit world.
Personally I really love this analogy as in our physical world we also have to take things step by step on a long and winding path. And on this physical plane there are also more paths that will lead you to your destination/destiny/goal.
PS please let me know if you spot any factual mistakes in my post… Nobody wants to come across as a dumbass…
If you like my images, repost, tweet, or tumblr, but with proper copyright attribution please. In the mean time have a look at this.
(c) JW Amsterdam