Hokkaido is located in the northernmost part of Japan, and is home to some little-known magical photo spots. Namely, the torii gates that stand in the beautiful sea.
You may be familiar with some famous floating torii, such as Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture, and Shirahige Shrine in Shiga Prefecture. But did you know there were some in Hokkaido, as well?
The floating torii gates in the towns of Shosanbetsu and Esashi have garnered quite a bit of attention on social media over the last few years. The towns of Okushiri, Rishiri, and Yoichi are also home to some rather unusual floating torii that have been secretly growing in popularity, as well.
But now, the secret is out as we introduce some little-known Hokkaido spots known for their magnificent views.
Above photo courtesy of Yoichi Tourism Association

What is a Torii? The meaning and purpose of torii gates

The towering torii of Itsukushima Shrine, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture. (Image: PIXTA)

Torii were originally built as entrance gates to shrines and other sacred places. What lies before the torii are the towns where people live, while the land past the gates is considered the sacred grounds of the gods.
In other words, torii act as the border between the human and spiritual world and symbolize that beyond those gates is where the gods reside.
You'll almost always find torii at shrine entrances without fail. However, they may also be found in other sacred places throughout the seas and mountains.
Floating torii gates were often built in the seas as a prayer for abundant fishing catches and safe voyages.

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1. Stunning sunset photo spot! The torii at Konpira Shrine (Shosanbetsu, Hokkaido)

An amazing evening view of the torii on a fine day. Across the sea you can see the silhouette of remote island Rishirijima and its tallest mountain peak. (Photo courtesy of Shosanbetsu Town Hall)

The torii gate at Cape Konpira in northern Hokkaido's Shosanbetsu Village has gained quite a lot of attention on Japanese social media in recent years. Boasting a nighttime view that is simply superb, it is a highly recommended place for anyone interested in photography.

The town of Shosanbetsu is famous for its beautiful, star-lit night sky. (Photo courtesy of Shosanbetsu Village Hall)

When visiting Shosanbetsu, the most convenient option is to rent a car. It's located about two hours from Wakkanai Airport, the northernmost airport in Japan, and about three hours from Hokkaido's Asahikawa Airport.
An easy landmark is Misakidai Park (Roadside Station Roman Kaido Shosanbetsu), a park that extends over the hills of Kompira.
Misakidai Park has restaurants, hot springs, campgrounds, and an observatory where you can admire the town's signature starry sky.
While there are no trains in the area, there is a highway bus that departs from Hokkaido's largest city, Sapporo. The ride is about four hours long, plus a 20-minute walk once you get off the bus.

Take the staircase along the cliffs at the corner of Misakidai Park down to the shore, and head left to the torii. (Photo courtesy of Shosanbetsu Village Hall)

At Cape Konpira, you'll find the torii…

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