As is our custom with all our custom-made Tees, we like to provide the backstory behind our colours, and boy does Torii Orange have a story... In fact, the origins of this amazing vermillion-based tone can be traced to the early 8th century, the year 711 to be precise.
And like all good origin stories, this one also has a little bit of magic attached to it.
FLYING RICE CAKES
According to legend, a rice cake was shot into the air as an offering of sorts. Suddenly it transformed into a swan and flew away, finally landing on the peak of a distant mountain. When it alighted, rice immediately began to grow, and this was interpreted by superstitious locals as a most auspicious omen.
Inari was originally and remains primarily the kami of rice and agriculture, but is now also worshipped by merchants and manufacturers as the patron of business.
In gratitude, they enshrined the deity Inari Okami on the plateau and, with that, started the shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha. Inari was originally and remains primarily the kami of rice and agriculture, but is now also worshipped by merchants and manufacturers as the patron of business.
THOUSANDS OF TORII
So, what has all this to do with our vivid orangey-red Tees you ask?
You see, at the rear of the temple there are a number of Torii, or shrine gates known as ‘Senbon Torii’. And when we say a number, we mean a seriously big number. Roundabout 1,000 actually, all stacked cheek by jowl and covering a full 4km of paths up the mountain.
Each of these gates is painted a peculiarly vivid shade of orangey red. Because in Japanese culture, red – and in particular vermilion – is considered to be an auspicious colour that represents power, authority, good fortune, wealth and nation. Not only that, but it also symbolises vitality and protection against evil, as well as the promise of a good harvest.
In the Edo period (1603-1868) patrons began to build wooden gates in the hopes of bountiful harvest, success in business or just as a token of their gratitude for some good fortune that had befallen them.
And this particular paint, being made of mercury, also works nicely as a preservative of the wood. Handy, because many of these gates date back over 400 years!
In the Edo period (1603-1868) patrons began to build wooden gates in the hopes of bountiful harvest, success in business or just as a token of their gratitude for some good fortune that had befallen them. The donor’s name and the date of the donation are inscribed on the back of each gate.
And the tradition continues to this day, with both businesses and individuals building the distinctive vermilion gates in the hopes of future prosperity.
Not all the gates are full-sized. Obviously there are those built by people who had somewhat smaller budgets than the large corporations (but ironically, a greater need for prosperity). These rather more humble offerings can be seen festooning the mountain in hundreds of smaller shrines along the paths.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOU FOX
In 2011, this venerable shrine celebrated its 1300th birthday (yes, you read that correctly) with, one can only presume, a shitload of candles and an abundance of offerings.
You see, Inari is one of the most popular of the Japanese deities, and, as a result, his shrine is somewhat of a mecca (no, not the Islamic kind) for both locals and tourists. In fact, such is his popularity, that he has over 30,000 sub-shrines scattered throughout Japan.
Many of these have large numbers of stone foxes (Kitsune) both inside and outside, dedicated to the rice god. These foxes symbolise both benevolence and malevolence, and are known as zenko, or good foxes. Shrine visitors leave offerings for the kitsune, who are often viewed as Inari’s messengers.
YOU’RE IN LUCK WITH OUR TORII ORANGE MAGIC FIT® TEES
If you’ve taken a shrine to this (sorry) gorgeous limited edition Torii Orange, you don’t have to travel to Kyoto to get it. Which is lucky, cause with COVID and all, getting there right now would be a real pain in the ass…
All you have to do instead is hustle and score one before they sell out. Which might be easier said than done seeing as though orange is the colour of excitement and enthusiasm.
Orange is also synonymous with joy and creativity and promotes a general sense of wellness, compassion, passion, and warmth. At the same time, it is said to aid in recovery from disappointment, and is perhaps an ideal colour for our troubled times.
So, whether you fancy looking like a stone cold fox, or could just use a bit of a pick-me-up, then all your prayers have been answered with Torii Orange.
P.S If you feel like you’re in need of a bit of luck post-COVID, consider getting a gate of your own at Fushima Inari Taisha. A small one will set you back around ¥ 400,000 (~AUD $4,865) whilst its big brother goes for well over ¥ 1,000,000 (a vermilion?!) yen (~AUD $12,163).