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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Shrine Architecture
[Shintai zan]
A mountain dedicated as an object of worship by virtue of its being possessed by a kami. While the term is not of ancient provenance, the practice of such dedication is itself very old. The worship of mountains can be found throughout the world, and certain mountains have long been worshiped as holy places in Japan as well. Some mountains are revered for their symmetrical shape, others due to their status as volcanoes, because they are the origins of springs, or because they are linked to other geological or meteorological phenomena and thus considered under the power of a certain kami, the residence of a kami, or the place where a kami descends. Rites to such mountains were observed at sites on the foothills or places considered to be at the border between the mountain and human habitation, and many such sites evolved into permanent shrines. Even today, some famous shrines, such as Ōmiwa Jinja in Nara Prefecture, exist without physical shrine buildings, as the mountain itself is considered the "kami body" (shintai). From the close of the Nara period, certain Buddhist practitioners began entering the mountains to engage in ascetic practices and attain supranormal powers; these were followed by similar practitioners of shugendō, and eventually lay people began climbing such mountains as well. In order to maintain the sanctity of such mountains, certain areas were sometimes demarcated as tabooed land, off-limits to human entry. On the other hand, certain large mountains such as Mount Fuji and Nikkō's Nantaisan have been recognized in whole as sacred mountains and thus legitimately part of shrine precincts (keidaichi); in recognition of that status, national lands were ceded to such mountains in the 1950s. In other cases, small mountains near a community are treated as the object of worship, such as at Nakoshiyama Shrine in Chiba Prefecture.

-Sugiyama Shigetsugu
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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