Dairi the spiritual head or supreme pontiff of the Shinto (q.v.) religion of Japan. At one time he combined in his own person the offices of secular and ecclesiastical ruler of the country. Towards the end of the 16th century, however, the temporal power was taken from him, leaving him only the spiritual.. His position is one of great dignity, and he attempts to maintain it with suitable display. The descendants of the royal family all belong to his court, and have now become so numerous that they are obliged to labor at the most humble occupations to maintain their outward dignity. The person of the Dairi is regarded as very sacred, even as above all mortal imperfection. When he dies, the next heir (of whatever age or sex) succeeds to the office thus made vacant. At such a time he is said to renovate his soul, that is, to be renewed in the form of his successor. The Dairi confers all titles of honor, and canonizes the. saints.

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