Here is the image that will be in my nightmares from now on:
If you think you can toss your waste in the Minuma Rice Fields nature preserve, think again – the red torii are watching you. Judging you.
A citizens’ group in Saitama prefecture has set up dozens of these unsettling warnings to try and stop litterers from ruining their greenery and historical farmland. A member of the group commented that they would prefer not to set these things up since they understand the negative effect on the scenery, but the move was taken out of frustration after signs and cameras didn’t work. The group claims it has been effective in reducing the amount of trash. I mean, what’s worse – hellish, gazing torii or mountains of construction waste in one of Japan’s precious nature preserves?
Torii (often translated as “traditional Japanese gates”) are traditionally placed at the entrance to Shinto shrines and symbolize that you are venturing into sacred space. In recent years, the practice of using torii (or mock torii with distorted proportions) to ward off potential litterers has grown as word of mouth has spread with the help of positive TV coverage. The added eye was an original innovation of the Saitama group. According to Wikipedia, this custom is predated by the use of tiny torii to keep public urinators in check.