- Kami-body, sacred substance. An object in which the kami inheres. A term best left untranslated, shintai is respectfully referred to as go-shintai or in 'Japanese' reading mi-tama-shiro or yori-shiro. A shintai may be a natural feature such as a rock, tree, mountain, (see Shintaizan), volcano crater, waterfall or well or it may be a manufactured object such as a mirror, sword, painting, gohei, comb, iron ball, specially shaped piece of metal or paper, or a 'found' item such as a stone or pebble. Where the shintai is indoors it is normally kept in the honden. In many cases the identity of the shintai is unknown or at least secret, since it is wrapped in more and more boxes and precious cloths over the years and never inspected. Kami may dwell in a shrine without any perceptible shintai. Buddhist statues, which is to say statues of gongen etc. made before the Meiji period when kami and Buddhas were the same thing, were commonly used as shintai until the shinbutsu bunri of 1868. Despite the instruction to burn them, some (now identified as shinzo, kami-statues) have survived as shintai. There are also some post-Meiji statues of kami enshrined as shintai. When a new bunsha (branch shrine of a major kami) is established the mitama or bunrei (divided spirit) of the kami is usually now carried in a mirror which is ritually installed as the new shintai.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.