This is the entrance to a wonderful, though to me, melancholy Shinto shrine. The shrine is called "Myoken Shinmeisha" (妙見神明社), built to honor the god of the North Star "Myoken" (妙見様), a popular deity in olden times. The shrine sits behind this entrance now in a highly suburbanized area in what was rice fields only a short time ago. Until then Myoken watched over the farms from his perch atop the hill behind this "torii" gate. A long flight of stone stairs, carefully laid down long years ago, still provides an elegant ascent. But where once stood Myoken's shrine is only an abandoned, rotting ruin of wood. Several of the stone lanterns have fallen over or are missing pieces. The shrine has moved to another place at the base of the hill (you can see an image here) but atop the hill there is a sense of beauty and meaning that has been forgotten.
Tomorrow I'll show you the top of the hill.