from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A form of decorative gateway or portal found in Japan. The torii is associated with Shinto worship, and is found at the entrance to Shinto temples. The Japanese suppose that it was intended originally as a roosting-place of the sacred fowls which gave warning of daybreak.
Shinto practice is concerned with maintaining the connection between past and present, and the forces of nature, so the torii isn't out of place.
The entrance into the temple court was, as usual, by a torii, which consisted of two large posts 20 feet high, surmounted with cross beams, the upper one of which projects beyond the posts and frequently curves upwards at both ends.
Wandering along the amusement quarter of some great city, a theatre is seen with a torii gorgeous in its red paint standing before the entrance.
In Japanese this word means 'bird.'