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Creating a Shrine Torii Entrance

After checking out more of the work by tanaka_ace on the Tounosawa Blog, I've decided to add a Japanese Shrine to my layout. I've extended the upper level to allow room for a kit I bought in Japan last September and have created a path back to the main town area.

As with any Shrine in Japan, the grounds are seen as sacred and insulated from the surrounding area; usually by either high walls or thick vegetation with a Torii gate for the entrance. I'll be adding the walls in soon enough, but prior to doing so I wanted to make sure I had all of the buildings and scenery effects in place.

The first thing to create was the Torii gate entrance. Tanaka_ace on his Tounosawa Blog had created a very nice gate with LED lanterns added. This is all based off a real-life location at the Tounosawa Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway. He had also created a blog post showing what he based the model off.

My version

I've used the same gauge winding wire I'd used for my level crossing lights, streetlights and building lighting. With this I've also used 1/16" brass pole for the main frame of the gate because I wanted to emulate wood rather than a cylindrical concrete post this time. This also provided a little more room to squeeze the wires through. Each length needed to be cut down to size and then filed back. I used standard snips to cut the brass, a smaller saw would've been a better idea.

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I based the size on the path that I had already created on the layout. I didn't really have a real-life prototype to work off and made a lot of it up as I went. The final size was around 50mm wide and I could fit 5 lanterns in. Below you can see the framing taking place.

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I then started cutting out the holes to feed the wire through. I used my trusty pocket-knife as the brass was quite soft. I also used a wire cut off a resistor to clean out the tubes of any metal shavings. The entrances created for the wires would have sharp edges and could scrape off the insulation on the wires, so I made the holes as big as possible.

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Once the holes were cut, I fed the wires through as a test. I then constructed the frame with solder. At this point I accidently overheated the wires on the left side. This caused one to ground and I then couldn't successfully light 1 of the 5 LEDs. I took more care the second time around when soldering the frame back together.

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I added a quick roof to the frame as tanaka_ace had done with his second version.

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Now that the frame and LEDs were in place, I could go about turning them into lanterns. This would be done by putting plastic piping around them. I had already done this with a fixed lantern on a TomyTec Japanese Shop, but this time I had no existing lanterns to work with. I therefore used the same concept as tanaka_ace.

Thanks to globalisation, I was able to acquire the exact same "Evergreen Scale Models" poly-piping that he used. I happened to purchase 3.2mm pipe instead of the 2.4mm; but this worked out well as the LEDs that I was using were a little bigger. The pipe was cut into appropriate lengths and then the edges rounded down to create the lantern shape. The individual lanterns were then sliced at the back so that I could slide them over the LEDs. I then used stock-standard Shelleys Aquadhere to fill in the ends.

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Once these were holding in place, I painted the frame a nice wood-brown. Torii gates can be made of wood or stone and painted a multitude of colours. You more often than not will see them in brown wood, but bright red, and even out in the ocean, is not uncommon.


And that was it... I still think I need to place some characters on the lanterns, but I need to work out what to write on them. I also should've taken more care to get the lanterns even, but I was happy enough with the outcome and, once in place on the layout, knew it would be good enough.

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Now that the entrance is in place, it's time to get the fences and shrine in. As you can see, the foundations are there already and I'm currently working on adding lanterns and lights to the shrine.

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  1. Interesting how you fed those tiny wires through. I’m not sure how well it would work in terms of resistance, but my first thought was running the power through the poles themselves. Take the left post and the upper horizontal post and solder them together, then do the same with the right and lower horizontal post. With 2 small insulating buffer (such as 2 squares of plastic) use glue to attach these two halfs without creating an electrical connection. Then solder on the LEDs to complete the circuit and cover with an insulating paint to prevent a short if something metal touches it.

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