Long-Exposure Photographs of Torii Shrine Gates by Ronny Behnert

Torii on Bentenjima (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka)

In 2019, German photographer Ronny Behnert travelled around Japan visiting various Torii, the traditional Japanese gate commonly found at the entrance of Shinto shrines and used to symbolically demarcate the transition between our world and the sacred world of the gods. And I know what you’re thinking — do we really need another photo gallery of Torii taken by a foreigner? We asked ourselves the same question and the answer, in this case, was yes.

Torii at Einootsurugi Shrine (Uto City, Kumamoto)

Behnert uses a process of combining neutral density filters (which block out light) with long-exposure times: sometimes up to 5 minutes. The resulting photographs allow the Torii and their co-inhabitants to occupy a dominant presence within the frame while other, unnecessary elements become whited out, creating a minimal landscape that’s reminiscent of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes.

Behnert’s Torii series was a recently awarded 1st place at the Sony World Photography Awards in the landscape category. You can follow Ronny Behnert on Instagram. (via Irene DB)

Torii at Hakuto Shrine (Tottori City, Tottori)

Torii at Matsue Shrine (Oita City, Oita)

Torii at Meoto Iwa (Futami, Mie)

Torii at Minato Shrine

Torii at Natakaigan (Kitsuki, Oita)

Torii at Shirahige Shrine (Takashima, Shiga)


  1. This foreigner finds the photos hauntingly beautiful. But as I admire them, I begin to panic. The Torii seem to exist in an airless vacuum inaccessible to the pilgrim seeking a transcendent experience. Peaceful, yes; but drained of Nature and life.

    • The obviously over-processed post prod kills any feeling of reality. They would have been better to leave as is from the camera.
      Unless of course, they were crap photographs to start… Which, based on the suspiciously consistent gray, is highly likely.

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