The large vermillion Torii gate serves as a landmark for the entire Gardens of Lake Merritt. Located at the end of the back entry path and at the edge of the forested heart of the garden, it represents the inward journey from the profane to the sacred. The original Torii Gate was a gift from our sister city in Fukuoka, Japan many years ago. That Torii Gate (in a different location) was taken down because the foundation had decayed. The Oakland-Fukuoka Sister City group raised funds for five years to build the current Torii Gate and unveiled it during its 40th anniversary in 2002.
The Torii Gate has existed throughout history for peoples all around the world. In Japan, from the first rustic Torii, Kami-ike (island shrines), and Iwa-kura (stone seats of the gods), through the Tea Ceremony, Sukiya living, and today when millions view Cherry blossoms in Spring or changing colors of Maples in Autumn.