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Torii gates are associated with the Shinto and (later on) the Buddhist traditions in Japan. The purpose of a torri gate is to serve as a gateway to a sacred space. This one stands by the lagoon EPCOT. I’m not sure which side of the torri is supposed to be the sacred side – it’s either the Japan pavilion itself, or else it’s the lagoon. I think it’s the water – here’s why.
The Shinto-Buddhist goddess known in Japan as Benzaiten is closely associated with the torri, and is often depicted wearing one on her head. Based upon the Hindu goddess Sarasvati, she is the goddess of “flow”; according to Wikipedia, that would include “water, words (and knowledge, by extension), speech, eloquence, and music”. I’d like to think it also includes the psychological definition of “flow” – to be so caught up in the task at hand, euphoria results. She is also associated with bestowing fortune.
Next time I’m in EPCOT, I need to look in the gift shop at the Japan pavilion and see if there is anything associated to Benzaiten in there. I want to read up on her – she sounds really interesting!
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