The Royal Forums Coat of Arms

Go Back   The Royal Forums > Royal Highlights > Royal Library > Book Club archive

Join The Royal Forums Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
  #1  
Old 06-29-2008, 01:34 PM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
July 2008: "Princess Masako" by Ben Hills (chapters 1-10)

Here is the schedule for the discussions and chat about the July 2008 Book Club book (Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne by Ben Hills). If you wish to take part in the discussion during July, you should have read (or be reading) the chapters specified in the thread title. We have divided the book into sections for weekly discussion, and there will be an hour of facilitated discussion at the beginning of each new period. However, the thread will be open for general discussion at all times. Please note that discussion of later chapters than those specified in the thread title is not permitted, and posts containing such spoilers will be deleted.

Sunday 6 July: Thread opens for discussion of chapters 1-4 at 4 pm (US East Coast time). Facilitated discussion of chapters 1-4 (4-5 pm East Coast time, 9-10 pm British Summer Time).

Sunday 13 July: Facilitated discussion of chapters 1-7, with emphasis on the new chapters (4-5 pm East Coast time, 9-10 pm British Summer Time).

Sunday 20 July: Facilitated discussion of the whole book (4-5 pm East Coast time, 9-10 pm British Summer Time).

Sunday 27 July: Live chat in the Book Club chat room to talk over the book (starting in the morning and running for the rest of the day).

Friday 1 August onward: Thread is available for anyone to post about the topic, regardless of whether they've read the book. This is the time for recommendations and discussion of other books and wider-ranging discussion of the book topic in general.
__________________

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 06-30-2008, 01:01 PM
Courtier
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Hiawassee, United States
Posts: 614
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimebear View Post
Here is the schedule for the discussions and chat about the July 2008 Book Club book (Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne by Ben Hills). If you wish to take part in the discussion during July, you should have read (or be reading) the chapters specified in the thread title. We have divided the book into sections for weekly discussion, and there will be an hour of facilitated discussion at the beginning of each new period. However, the thread will be open for general discussion at all times. Please note that discussion of later chapters than those specified in the thread title is not permitted, and posts containing such spoilers will be deleted.

Sunday 6 July: Thread opens for discussion of chapters 1-4 at 4 pm (US East Coast time). Facilitated discussion of chapters 1-4 (4-5 pm East Coast time, 9-10 pm British Summer Time).

Sunday 13 July: Facilitated discussion of chapters 1-7, with emphasis on the new chapters (4-5 pm East Coast time, 9-10 pm British Summer Time).

Sunday 20 July: Facilitated discussion of the whole book (4-5 pm East Coast time, 9-10 pm British Summer Time).

Sunday 27 July: Live chat in the Book Club chat room to talk over the book (starting in the morning and running for the rest of the day).

Friday 1 August onward: Thread is available for anyone to post about the topic, regardless of whether they've read the book. This is the time for recommendations and discussion of other books and wider-ranging discussion of the book topic in general.

I have read this excellent book, it explains so much about what has happened
__________________

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-30-2008, 10:49 PM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
This week we will be discussing Chapters 1 - 4.


Chapter 1 - The Men in Black

This chapter covers:
  • The customs and rituals of the wedding
  • The media frenzy over the long awaited marriage of the Imperial heir
  • The disapproval of the Crown Prince's choice of a bride by the IHA
  • The immediate and not-so-subtle pressure on the new Princess to produce an heir.
Chapter 2 - Daddy's Girl

This chapter covers:
  • The ancestors and original village of the Owada family
  • The education and rise in profession of Masako's father resulting in the frequent moves of the Owada family out of Japan
  • Hishashi Owada's lack of a son resulting in his treatment of Masako as a boy to follow in his footsteps
Chapter 3 - Mummy's Boy

This chapter covers:
  • Naruhito's first trip overseas to Australia
  • The differences in the upbringing of Naruhito compared to Akihito
  • The early signs that Naruhito intended to be a more modern monarch
The Last Emperor

This covers:
  • The decline in monarchies in recent times leaving the Japanese Royal Family as the last Imperial dynasty on the throne.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-05-2008, 07:31 AM
Attaining Grace's Avatar
Aristocracy
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 140
I am hoping to get this from the library on Monday.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-06-2008, 10:59 AM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
Some questions to consider:

1. Do you think that Naruhito should have married earlier to a less independant woman instead of aggressively pursuing Masako?
2. Was Masako's background as someone who lived a great deal outside of Japan too influential to allow her to fully comprehend the restrictions she would face as the Crown Princess?
3. Did Hisashi Owada's ambition play the key role in Masako's decision to marry Naruhito?
4. Does Naruhito's tendancy towards a more modern monarchy come as a result from the little breaks in tradition by his parents?
5. Will Japan be able to strike the right balance of traditional and modernization to keep the monarchy going after the death of the current emperor?
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-08-2008, 01:46 AM
Imperial Majesty
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: ***, United States
Posts: 16,897
Interesting questions. I think Naruhito was stuck in the same bind that a lot of the crown princes of his generation found themselves - expected to make a suitable marriage, but not having to make some loveless alliance for dynastic reasons, and really wanting to marry someone for love and companionship. I assume his father's and brother's examples only encouraged him.

It does sound as though Masako had an idea of what was in store for her and wasn't very keen on it, but she seemed to be under pressure from her family, to say nothing of the press. And I suppose the knowledge that the Prince had waited for her all those years must have contributed. It's so sad, knowing how things turned out, to see her reluctance to get into this situation.

This early part of the book deals with the upbringing and education of Naruhito and Masako; I found it interesting how Naruhito's education in England has coloured his expectations for both what he wanted in a wife and also how he saw his own position as crown prince and emperor. I wonder whether the IHA will have second thoughts about educating the heir abroad after this. I'm sort of expecting poor Hisahito to be stuck in the Gakushuin system for his entire educational experience.

It's a bit hard to deal with this book on its own after ChiaraC's fascinating thread, but I think at least at this stage in the lives of Masako and Naruhito, the two books are agreeing on the various influences and experiences the two of them had. It's strange when you see Empress Michiko looking so wraithlike and sweet, hovering by her husband's side these days, to think that she seemed to rule the place with the same sort of iron fist/velvet glove combination that was wielded so effectively by the Queen Mother.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-08-2008, 11:03 AM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
I think Masako was very keen to follow in her father's footsteps. In Western society, there is not such a strong, day to day adherence to family and personal honor as there is in Japan. It took a realization by Masako that she could serve her country in the manner that she had studied for by becoming a member of the imperial family before she agreed to marry Naruhito. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as she had hoped. She was not what the IHA was looking for in an imperial bride in many ways. Given the cloud that she arrived under and her family's past, I think she started out in the red before there were any problems with conception.

I agree with you, Elspeth about Naruhito's education. Spending time abroad as he did at such an impressionable age certainly had to have an impact on his more modern approach. Seeing his royal counterparts having decidedly more personal freedom in the choices they made had to have an effect on him. Also, he was close to his mother and she seemed to have bucked some tradition with his upbringing. Of course she had a little more freedom to do so, as she was lucky enough to have a male heir first.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-13-2008, 03:45 PM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
This week we will be discussing Chapters 1 - 7, with emphasis on chapters 4 -7. My apologies for misnumbering them last week.



Chapter 4 - Magna Cum Laude

This chapter covers:
  • Masako's college education and her life alone in the US at Harvard after her family returned to Moscow.
  • Masko's role as an unofficial Japanese ambassador.
  • Masako's determination to return to Japan after college to work at the Foreign Ministry.
Chapter 5 - The Dreaming Spires

This chapter covers:
  • The early courtship of Naruhito and Masako
  • The complex approval process of choosing an Imperial bride
  • The disapproval of Naruhito's choice of Masako by the IHA and Masako's parents.
  • Masako's flight from Japan to study at Oxford, Naruhito's alma mater.
Chapter 6 - The Pledge

This chapter covers:
  • Masako's fast track diplomatic career upon her return to Japan.
  • Naruhito's installment as Crown Prince and his half-hearted efforts to find a bride other than Masako.
  • The strict protocol expected by the IHA and followed by the Japanese Press Corps in regard to the Imperial family.
  • The pressure applied to the Owada family to encourage Masako's acceptance of the marriage proposal and the personal assurances of protection by Michiko and Naruhito.
Chapter 7 - Heir Unapparent

This chapter covers:
  • The early years of the marriage and the restrictions placed on Masako as the new Crown Princess.
  • The history of the IHA and the scope of their influence.
  • The pressure on the couple to produce an heir and the tragic disappointments.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-20-2008, 04:01 PM
Imperial Majesty
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: ***, United States
Posts: 16,897
Reading this part of the book really did bring back rather sad memories of news stories at the time, which were talking about Masako's reluctance to join the imperial family and the challenges she'd have to face. The timing, which was around the time the Morton book was published and the charade of the Wales marriage was exposed, didn't help, because this looked like another disaster in the making and that's pretty much how it's turned out. The difference is that Diana abandoned her marriage and seemed to find herself in the process whereas Masako has pretty much been destroyed by hers. This book says that she would probably have had to forget about marriage if she wanted to advance her career, which it seems as though she did. If she didn't want to be hamstrung in her personal life by a regular marriage, marriage into the imperial family must have been a terrible prospect.

I wonder if the Japanese people, who seem to have decided that the Akishino family is perfect, know about Prince Akishino's rather rowdy background before his marriage, or the fact that his decision to marry before his elder brother was at least partly due to his affairs and his riotous living and not entirely to true love. It seems as though the press over there don't report bad things about the royals unless the've fallen foul of the IHA, and these days they appear to have rewritten history to show Prince Akishino in a favourable light. Considering that he must have known what his own mother went through with her marriage to Emperor Akihito, I assume he saw the way Princess Masako was struggling to adjust to life in the royal family and he doesn't appear to have been supportive of his brother and sister-in-law. And they call the Windsors a dysfunctional family!
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-20-2008, 04:32 PM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
This week we will be discussing the whole book, with emphasis on chapters 8-10.



Chapter 8 - The Hand of God

This chapter covers:
  • The treatment of Masako's infertility.
  • The eventual use of IVF dispite its controversial view in Japan and its status as an "underground" fertility treatment.
  • Masako's resulting pregnancy and Naruhito's untradional participation in the birth.
  • The joy surrounding Aiko's birth and the almost immediate pressure to try again for a boy.
  • The beginning of Masako's decline in health.
Chapter 9 - The Black Dog

This chapter covers:
  • The apparant absence of Masako from offical duties.
  • The bombshell statement by Naruhito at the press conference implicating the IHA's role in Masako's health problems.
  • The very public condemnation of Naruhito's statements by the IHA speaking for the Emperor himself and the beginning of the family rift.
  • The initial support of the citizens for the plight of their Crown Princess and the resulting campaign by the IHA.
  • The stigma of mental illness in Japan and the loss of support.
  • The proposal to allow Aiko to ascend the throne and the announcement of the pregnancy of a potential male heir in the Akishino family.
Chapter 10 - No Happy Ending

This chapter covers:
  • The talk of a possible divorce by the Crown Princely couple.
  • The very gradual re-emergence of Masako into public life
  • The birth of Hisahito and the rising popularity of the Akishino's over Naruhito and Masko.
  • Masako's continuing depression and uncertain future.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-20-2008, 05:12 PM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
Masako has really found herself in an almost impossible position. You know what it is said about "breeding in captivity". A woman's fertility can be very adversely affected by stress and Masako seems to have more than her share. Add to that the stigma of IVF and the whatever treatments she is receiving for her depression and it is no wonder that another pregnancy has not been achieved.

Of course, it does not help that her critics are not only calling for her divorce from Naruhito, but essentially call her worthless and suggest that it might be better for all involved if she were to just kill herself so that he could remarry and have a son. Who wouldn't be depressed by that?
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-20-2008, 05:22 PM
Imperial Majesty
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: ***, United States
Posts: 16,897
The chapter title of the last chapter is really pitiful; it sums up the entire sad story. From what ChiaraC said in her review of that other book, it seems as though Masako overcame her reluctance to marry into the royal family because she felt she could help Naruhito move the family into the 21st century and modernise things. Now that they don't have an heir to follow them, and the heirs are Naruhito's more conservative brother and the son he'll be raising in his own image, it looks as though Naruhito's reign will be basically irrelevant. The IHA bureaucrats, who outlive any given monarch, will just see his desire for modernisation as a blip on the screen and will be able to outlast him secure in the knowledge that things will be back to "normal" when the Akishino branch of the family takes the reins. In that respect, I think Naruhito is going to have about the same effect on the outlook of the Japanese monarchy that the Duke of Windsor did for the British monarchy, which is to say none whatever: George VI went right back to being a carbon copy of George V and left the monarchy mired in the 19th century for longer than was good for it. Masako must be realising that the lack of a son is what has put them on a branch line to extinction, so along with the dashed hopes of a meaningful future, she's got the responsibility of knowing she was at least partly responsible.

It would have been nice if her early misgivings had been proved wrong, but the reality has turned out, if anything, worse than the prospect, and that's tragic.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-20-2008, 05:36 PM
kimebear's Avatar
Serene Highness
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
Posts: 1,382
Excellent points Elspeth. However, I'm hoping that Naruhito will have a long and popular reign as Emperor. Perhaps if he manages to strike the right balance of modernity and respect for tradition, the people of Japan will allow some sort of compromise for Aiko. There are many references in the book that speak of his desire to bring Japan's monarchy more into line with the other monarchies of the world and he has been slowly make advancements. Maybe allowing Aiko to become Empress as a regent in the event that she has a son, with Akishino (if he outlives Naruhito) or Hisahito to act as the head of the Shinto religion, could be considered as a way to give both sides what they want. Most unlikely I'm sure, but a possible solution to a very sad story. I still believe that Masako has much to offer as Empress. Michiko had the benefit of bearing an heir immediately and her mental illness was not public knowledge for many years. She has become quite popular with the Japanese people and a wonderful imperial consort. Masako could very well do the same if given the chance.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-28-2008, 05:42 PM
Courtier
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Kirkland, United States
Posts: 682
I just finished the book and it really opened my eyes and explained a lot of what has been going on in the Japanese royal family.
I feel that Masako realized that once she got caught up in the fast track of her government that there was a huge "glass ceiling" and that she could only go so far.
She wanted a husband and children and maybe thought that by marrying Naruhito she would get the family, the children and the jackpot quasi-government job as crown princess traveling all over the globe on royal diplomatic trips.
The Imperial Household men and women have called the shots. Not only did Masako have trouble getting pregnant, but hen she supposedly underwent fertility treatments. This alone would send anybody over the edge - having all kinds of drugs injected into your system.
Is Hisahito a curse or a blessing for Masako and Naruhito? His birth may have taken some of the pressure off Masako, but there must be some jealousy for Masako and Naruhito. I cannot imagine Akishino (he's such a slimey character) not constantly reminding his brother of who holds the power of succession in his hands now. I hope that Naruhito does become Emperor because I believe that he will be a good influence not only on Japan but will also open up the royal family to the world. But for Masako that may be too late.
__________________

__________________
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
ben hills, japanese imperial family, princess masako


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Princess Alexandra of Kent and the late Sir Angus Ogilvy: July 2003- Alexandria British Royals 396 Yesterday 10:10 PM
"Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne" by Ben Hills (2006) linda85 Royal Library 96 01-19-2012 06:08 PM
2nd baby girl for Hashem & Fahdah: Princess Rayet Al Noor, July 4, 2008 Huda King Abdullah's Brothers 35 04-09-2009 07:32 AM
Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako current events 4: Jan - Dec 2008 Mandy Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako and Family 171 12-05-2008 04:50 PM




Additional Links
Popular Tags
birth charlene chris o'neill crown prince felipe crown prince haakon crown princess letizia crown princess mary current events danish royals diana duchess of cambridge fashion dutch royal history engagement fashion grand duchess maria teresa grand duke henri infanta cristina infanta elena infanta leonor infanta sofia king abdullah ii king carl xvi gustav king felipe king felipe vi king harald king juan carlos king philippe king willem-alexander olympics ottoman palace poland pom prince albert prince albert ii prince carl philip prince constantijn prince felipe prince felix prince floris princess princess alexia (2005 -) princess anita princess ariane princess beatrix princess catharina-amalia princess charlene princess laurentien princess letizia princess mabel princess madeleine princess margriet princess marie princess marilene princess mary princess of asturias queen letizia queen mathilde queen maxima queen rania queen silvia queen sofia royal russia sofia hellqvist spain state visit visit wedding william


Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

RV & Travel Trailer Communities

Our RV & Travel Trailer sites encompasses virtually all types of Recreational Vehicles, from brand-specific to general RV communities.

» More about our RV Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:51 AM.

Social Knowledge Networks

eXTReMe Tracker
Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2014
Jelsoft Enterprises

Royal News Delivered to your Email!

You can get the latest Royal News right in your inbox.

unsusbcribe at anytime with one click

Close [X]