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  #121  
Old 06-25-2008, 03:07 PM
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It appears that Masako might have been perfect for Naruhito and what he wanted in a bride, but not perfect from the point of view of the traditional role of Crown Princess.
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  #122  
Old 06-25-2008, 04:34 PM
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I am dying to get this book. I feel terrible for poor Masako and very proud of her husband. A weaker man would have given up on her years ago.
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  #123  
Old 06-30-2008, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HRH Abigail View Post
ChiaraC, I am not irritated with you, nor angry at you.

I was merely asking why what I read left off when it did.

The lack of book chronology had me confused. As the book appeared to jump around so, it became hard for me to follow.

Thank you,

-- Abbie
Abbie, let me explain, too...
As you know I am not a native speaker in English and so I was in this case mistaken concerning the exact meaning of "irritated" in English. We have in German nearly the same word, "irritiert", which means: confused/surprised as something is not as you expected it to be, but without (negative or positive) judgement being implied. I used "irritated" in this sense but it obviously conveys when used in the English language an idea of being angry or at least of being surprised in a negative way. This is not what I wanted to say (although I obviously said it...) It was just a misunderstanding.

Hello, Mermaid! And, yep, Odette, I think Naruhito is really a strong man. There are so many men in this world who have lots of muscles, big cars and loud voices but they would not stand up for their values or their affections if for that they had to brave the disapprobation of the men around them. They are too much afraid to lose their friends´good opinion, to be seen as weak or as "not a real man". They become cowards for fear of APPEARING as cowards.
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  #124  
Old 06-30-2008, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiaraC View Post
Abbie, let me explain, too...
As you know I am not a native speaker in English and so I was in this case mistaken concerning the exact meaning of "irritated" in English. We have in German nearly the same word, "irritiert", which means: confused/surprised as something is not as you expected it to be, but without (negative or positive) judgement being implied. I used "irritated" in this sense but it obviously conveys when used in the English language an idea of being angry or at least of being surprised in a negative way. This is not what I wanted to say (although I obviously said it...) It was just a misunderstanding.
I understand, now.

I figured as much.

Misunderstandings will occur from time to time, too.

You write English AMAZINGLY well!

I cannot begin to equal your prowess in writing German.

-- Abbie
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  #125  
Old 07-04-2008, 08:30 AM
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Thank you, Abbie! We all have our special abilities, and there will always be many more things that we do NOT know than that we know... For all of us...
Yep, and misunderstandings happen, even when all have the same native language.
Today we go for the rest of chapter two. Then only chapter three will follow (engagement and marriage), and then I will be done with the summary!
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  #126  
Old 07-04-2008, 08:36 AM
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Post Masako reconsidered

Then Naruhito´s brother Fumihito got impatient. According to tradition, he should have waited for his brother to be married before taking a wife himself. But, as he said, his brother did not even have a partner – meaning: nobody knew how long Fumihito would have to wait if he consented to respect tradition. And so he married in June 1990 Kiko Kawashima.

(I think that he absolutely did right. But here is also the reason why I do not believe for a moment the touching story of prince Akishino´s having refrained from having more children (after Kako) out of consideration for his childless brother´s feelings: Fumihito took a wife when he wanted it – even when he had to convince the emperor and the kunaicho first in order to get there. And he WOULD have had more children if he had wanted them – even more so as that would have been much easier than getting married as in this case he would have had to convince only Kiko... Do not misunderstand me: I think it very well that he married when he chose and that he should have had as few or as many children as he wanted and whenever he wanted. The only thing I do not like is the hypocrisy about being concerned about his brother´s feelings that goes with it. I am not sure that the Akishino´s having only two daughters actually helped Naruhito and Masako in any way. Maybe the misunderstandings in the imperial family had never grown that bad had the Akishinos had a little son already in the nineties. Maybe it would have soothed the worries of the emperor and the empress to know that there was already a little crown prince in the second row for “just in case”. And maybe this ease of mind would have helped their communication with the crown prince couple. Who knows?)

Any way, after prince Fumihito´s wedding had taken place the media were still more eager to report and speculate about the future crown princess. Prince Takamado, Naruhito´s cousin and friend, hit the nail on the head when he said: “Press reporting about the search for the crown princess is completely over-heated. Under these circumstances, no flower can bloom.” And the leading executives of the kunaicho came to draw the same conclusion. Accordingly, on the 17th June 1991, the grand chancellor of the kunaicho, Shoichi Fujimori, went with his deputy, Iwao Miyao, to the association of Japanese editors (that has 145 newspapers, news agencies, tv and radio channels as its members), and asked them to stop reporting about the crown princess issue. Six months later, in February 1992 the association complied and consented to keep quiet for three months. So, the executives of the kunaicho now took pains to make good use of the given time of peace and to quickly fulfill their task. The grand chancellor, Shoichi Fujimori, went to the crown prince and asked him after his wishes. And Naruhito asked hopefully: “Being aware of all the problems implied, would it not still be possible with Masako?”

Fritz and Kobayashi report that - upon this request - the grandfather-issue was reconsidered. They say that at that time Masako´s grandfather had stopped working for Chisso and that the conflict between the company and the victims of the catastrophe caused by it was at the point of being solved…
(For details of the scandal see: Chisso - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

That is what Fritz and Kobayashi say but here again I would ask if there had been really a change in the facts – or if this had been all along just an explanation made up for the public to cover up the fact that the establishment simply did not want Masako as crown princess in 1988 - an explanation that now was no longer useful. True, Fritz and Kobayashi say that something HAD changed but in the facts that they report I really cannot see what the substantial change should have been: 1. They say that in 1992 Masako´s grandfather had stopped working for Chisso. But as far as I understand them this cannot be called a change as in 1988 the grandfather was not working for Chisso either: when they first mention the Chisso-story in the book they already use past tense. They say that the prince could not marry Masako (in 1988) because her grandfather HAD BEEN WORKING some time for the company. (“…dass ihr Großvater mütterlicherseits, Yutaka Egashira, zeitweise die Geschicke der Chemiefirma Chisso GELEITET HATTE.”) Of course, it could be a grammatical lapse that they are using past perfect here – at the time they were writing the book all of this was history anyway – but as far as I can see they usually do not make this sort of mistake. 2. They say that in 1992 the conflict was about to be cleared. But on the other hand they say when they first mention the story that the payments of compensation had been made to some victims even before Masako´s grandfather had begun working for the company (whenever that was) but that even in 1993 (the year of Naruhito´s and Masako´s marriage) still some of the victims´ cases were being dealt with by the courts. It obviously took a long time get over with all that. But, judging from the facts Fritz and Kobayashi give I really do not see the big difference between the situation of the year 1988 and that of the year 1992 as far as Masako´s grandfather is concerned. In 1988 as well as in 1992 he was not actually working for the company but had done it in the past, and in 1988 as well as in 1992 the conflict was undergoing a very lengthy process that should lead to its being cleared. (The environment scandal all this was about had taken place already in the years 1953 – 1969). If there should be an important difference between 1988 and 1992 concerning this issue Fritz and Kobayashi for certain do not properly explain it in the book. (I do not mean to say that they consciously gave a wrong explanation, I just think that they maybe have bought too easily into the kunaicho´s version of facts – and the kunaicho- executives – or the loyal court journalists - certainly would have stressed that there had been a big, big change between 1988 and 1992 in the Chisso-question as otherwise they would have been obliged to admit the true reason for Masako´s having been unacceptable for them in 1988.)

So, in spite of what Fritz and Kobayashi say I personally have got the impression that the main reason for the kunaicho´s change of mind concerning Masako was the simple fact that the crown prince had already reached the age of 32 without any realistic prospects of getting married within the next one or two years. And this was probably also the reason why emperor Akihito – who seems until this time to not have meddled - commented the issue and insisted on his son´s affections being given priority. (This fatherly support was already a good tradition in the imperial family: it is true that Akihito´s mother had opposed his marriage to Michiko but his father, emperor Hirohito, had always respected his son´s choice.)
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  #127  
Old 07-04-2008, 08:42 AM
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Post Second try

At the time when this discussion was taking place, Masako was already back in Japan. She had finished her studies in Oxford with a master´s degree in 1990, and had then returned to Tokyo to work for the second North-America department of the Foreign Office – which is the department with the highest prestige as it deals with all questions concerning Japan´s most important trade partner and sole military ally.

From time to time, she had read about the crown prince´s ongoing search for a wife in some newspaper but without paying much attention. The young ambitious diplomats in the Foreign Office do not have much time for anything but their work. And their working place is fitted up in a way that basically annihilates the necessity to ever go home again: There are restaurants, a laundry, a supermarket that is open twenty-four hours a day and beds for those who have so much work that they decide to stay at their working place for the night and to sleep only a few hours right where they are, in order to not waste time on going home. And even among these very hard-working young people Masako had got the nick-name: “the woman who does not need any sleep”…

But whatever Masako feelings might be: in spite of all the preceding difficulties, it now had been decided by the kunaicho that she would be an acceptable candidate or even “the last hope”. (I think it an interesting fact that her mother-in-law Michiko had been called the same. One executive of the kunaicho, Michiharu Tajima, wrote in his diary before Akihito and Michiko were engaged: “The opinion of everybody concerned seems to be that the marriage with Michiko Shoda has to be made possible by whatever means because it is the only hope.”)

And so, the grand chancellor of the kunaicho, Shoichi Fujimori, set to work and found someone who would be able to work as a mediator between the parties and who should inform Masako´s parents of their daughter´s views… He picked Kensuke Yanagiya, the president of the Japanese society for development aid. Fujimori knew him well as they had both been working together for the government. And on the other hand, Yanagiya had once been working with Masako´s father (in a superior position) so that there was a contact already established also to this side.

Masako and her parents were very surprised when they heard that the crown prince was still wanting Masako as his wife. At that time they had heard nothing from him or from the court for nearly five years. They hesitated. But Fujimori knew what he wanted and asked the man who had given Masako´s name to the kunaicho in the first place, Toru Nakagawa, (see: “The crown prince in search for a wife, part I”) to support his endeavours. It is unknown if still anybody else tried to convince the resisting family. Fujimori had already asked the media twice to give him more time to work in silence when Masako´s parents, after four months, finally gave in and gave their consent to a meeting between their daughter and the crown prince. According to Fritz and Kobayashi, it is unknown what finally brought them to change their mind.

This meeting took place on the 16th August 1992 in the house of Kensuke Yanagiya. Masako later remembered that her emotions were ambivalent. She was informed about the prince´s affection for her but she was not sure how to deal with this situation. Naruhito, on the other hand, was overjoyed. Not only because he finally got the opportunity to see her again after five years of waiting but also because he found that her personality, as he said himself, had grown and developed to a level twice or even thrice as high as when he had met her first. To him it was now clearer than ever that Masako was the woman he wanted to marry and to pass his life with.

In the following weeks he repeatedly talked to Masako on the phone when she came home from her work at the Foreign ministry and finally convinced her to meet him a second time. This time he chose a romantic place, a duck lake on the peninsula Chiba near Tokyo. They took a walk round the lake, listened to the quacking of the ducks and chatted merrily. After a while when the sun began to set Naruhito asked: “Do you want to marry me?” Masako answered: “I will give you my answer on one of the next days. But is it also permitted that I decline your offer?” Naruhito composedly said: “That is o.k.”. (Here and in the following conversations between Naruhito and Masako I am trying to translate as literally as possible from the book. I suppose it sometimes does not sound quite English but it does not sound quite German in the original either… I suppose that Fritz and Kobayashi put it this way because they think that this is the best way to give us an idea of the original Japanese words.)

Masako needed two weeks to make up her mind. Then her family asked the kunaicho to inform the prince that Masako did not have sufficient self confidence to accept the prince´s offer. Their worlds were too different from each other. She wanted to continue working.
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  #128  
Old 07-04-2008, 08:47 AM
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Post Never give up

At this point, grand chancellor Fujimori had to ask the media for the third time to keep quiet still a bit longer: neither for the kunaicho nor for the prince this could be accepted as the end of the story. The mediators, Yanagiya and Nakagawa, talked to Masako and her father. Also Shigemitsu Dando who had been charmed by Masako´s grace when he saw her at the reception for princess Elena (see: “The crown prince in search for a wife, part I“) told the Owadas about the prince´s admiration for Masako, cheered them up and gave advice. Naruhito called his beloved every day. Masako resisted, Masako hesitated – until the prince came up with an argument that finally convinced her: “Is it not the same if you work as a diplomat or as a member of the imperial family? In both positions you can serve your country. Could not you help me in the field of imperial diplomacy?”

This was the first moment that made Masako see the prince´s offer in a new, different light. In order to serve her country and to be true to an essential part of her identity – being a Japanese citizen – she had decided to come home from the US and to apply for a position in the Foreign ministry. That there could be still another way in which she could serve and accomplish her mission was a new, interesting thought… Now it was Masako who wanted to have another meeting with the crown prince. It took place on Saturday the 28th November 1992. Masako made a visit to the togu palace, and she and Naruhito had a long conversation during which he spoke the famous words: “I know that you have several fears and worries when you consider joining the imperial family. To the end of my life I will protect you with all my might.”

Masako was deeply touched. Two weeks later she went again to the togu palace for a visit. When she met the prince she asked: “Do I really suffice you?” The prince answered: “Yes, you suffice me.” Then Masako said: “If I can help you by it I will humbly accept you offer. Up to this moment I have heard words from you that have made me very happy and joyful. I want to believe these words and to live with you together. And I will also make efforts that the prince will be able to become happy – and that I myself will be able to also have such a life of which I will want to say when looking back that it was a good life.”

(End of the summary of the second chapter.)
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  #129  
Old 07-04-2008, 08:59 AM
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Lightbulb

If you read this story in detail you may ask yourself – as I did - if it was not, after all, too much pressure on Masako – if she really would have had a chance left to say “No” if it was this what she really wanted.

Of course, we will never know for sure. But I think it remarkable that she resisted as long as it was only (if even intense) pressure, and that she only relented when Naruhito made her see it from a new perspective. We can say that she steadfastly declined to marry Naruhito as long as this option was presented to her as an offer of marriage. But as soon as it was presented to her in the light of an offer of employment she began to consider it (and finally accepted it).

But the problem was that she soon found out that the position she had applied for did not answer the job description - given to her by Naruhito - at all. That was not his fault. As I said (see: “The vision becomes reality – not”), the emperor and empress themselves had in their own time as crown prince and crown princess made 22 visits to 42 countries for representative reasons – and not necessarily because they wanted it but because it was simply considered to be part of their duties. Accordingly, Naruhito had no reason to believe that for him and Masako things would be different or that this would be something that they would have to ask or to struggle for. But, for several reasons (see: “Three good reasons for staying at home…”), this was not the case.

If we know this we understand better why Masako had such a problem to bear her fate. Had she married Naruhito because she wanted the man (Like queen Silvia of Sweden put it when she was asked if it was a difficult decision to marry a king: “It was not about marrying a king but about marrying the man one loves.”) she would in all troubles have had the comfort that, at least concerning this point, she was following her destiny. And I suppose that it is this what neither Michiko nor Kiko understand: they married their husbands in the first place because they were in love with them – the joys or the difficulties of imperial life where just what was part of it. But Masako did not marry a man, she accepted a job…

And the paradox of her path through life is obviously that she has got what she had never wished for before she married: a good husband who stands by her and is really a partner and a friend (something that Michiko and Kiko DID expect – and, I suppose, did not get to the degree they expected it) and a charming little daughter who is the apple of her eye. And I am sure she has to learn (and has already learnt) to be grateful for these unwished-for and, accordingly, unearned blessings. But, on the other hand, she has not gotten (and may never get) what was the first and dearest and only wish of her youth: to serve her country by promoting its welfare and the peaceful, friendly contact between it and other nations. To the contrary: a lot of Japanese feel that Masako brings shame to them – for example, many people felt that when Ben Hill´s book was published. Other Japanese pity her. But I am afraid that, at present, there are not many Japanese who are proud of her. And that there are Westerners (like in this forum) who admire her is probably only a weak comfort for her who always has wanted to serve JAPAN…

But when I see the recent pictures of her with her daughter and on the exhibition I hope that even this life dream may come true for her some day...
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  #130  
Old 07-08-2008, 02:22 AM
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Thanks ChiaraC. I really enjoy reading the translations and your insights/opinions.

I did not realise about the reaction to Ben Hills' book in Japan. Do you have more information about that?

I agree with you about the irony of Masako's life so far, that she got a loving husband and child (which a lot of people don't have) but not the career she wanted. Which brings me to another interesting point that ch 2 raises. Do you think Masako married Naruhito out of love? While it is obvious Masako is and always will be the great love of Naruhito's life, it seems to me that Masako agreed to marry out of a combination of affection, gratitude, duty and pressure from other parties. I am not passing judgement on Masako in any way, and I think perhaps she learned to love her husband after they were married (love works in different and mysterious ways for each of us ). But I think the reasons for her accepting the proposal were perhaps not the best recipe for personal happiness, and this fact may have contributed to the present sad situation.
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  #131  
Old 07-08-2008, 10:51 AM
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It has been fascinating to read the interpretations of this book. Once again, ChiaraC, thank you for taking the time to share with us. As far as the Ben Hills book goes, we are currently discussing it in the Book of the Month thread if anyone would care to join us.

http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...4-a-17569.html
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  #132  
Old 07-15-2008, 07:13 AM
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Thank you very much, kimebear, for your support! and for mentioning this discussion. I cannot take part in it as I have not read Ben Hill´s book. (I only know from press articles I have found in this forum that it has caused some trouble in Japan. Here, for example: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...lls-11251.html) But I will very certainly follow the discussion with much interest, as far as it is "lasting" (not only visible in the chat).

Very interesting question, Emi!
There can be no doubt that Masako was NOT passionately in love with Naruhito when she decided to marry him (see: “A mission together”, at the beginning of this thread). But then we have to be aware that “love” can mean a lot of various things: Fritz and Kobayashi say that at the beginning of her marriage Masako wanted to go slowly and “first build a firm foundation for their love. And the prince accepted that.” (see: “An heir for the chrysanthemum throne? Part II”). As used in this sentence, the word “love” means obviously something that can be consciously planted and then be raised with patience and care, and it does NOT mean a sudden flash of lightning that hits you unawares. Of course, we in the Western world use to rely on the second sort of love – but if we are honest we are also aware of the problems that it may cause. A flash of lightning is certainly very light – but soon over…

Masako married Naruhito for two reasons: she felt strong affection and deep respect for him. And she felt that it could be her life mission to serve her country as crown princess. It seems to me that if we sum this up it comes very close to an idea of love that is not unknown to Westerners either, it is only a more traditional one. And I still think it an opinion worth to be considered that it could be more important for a lasting relationship to share the same values and to pursue the same mission than to feel strong bodily passion. At least, I would say: it might work out with strong passion - or not. If it is just for one night it very probably will do. But, in the long run, the couple without strong passion may have a chance as well, the couple who does not share the same values has none at all.

Anyhow, if everything had went well, if they had gotten the opportunity to realize the vision they had for serving their nation, Naruhito and Masako would have had, IMO, a good chance to live well together – they probably would never have felt anything lacking, even if their commitment to their mission would probably have been much stronger and emotionally more intense than their commitment to each other. But as it is I do think that they both suffered for a long time from the lack of emotional fulfillment in their marriage. (I suppose that Naruhito had a problem, too, as he knew that at his side Masako was missing something she might have had with another man - if she had married only for love.)

But on the other hand, I think that – if we only consider the personal side of their marriage - it was, after all, a blessing in disguise that they could not carry out their plans and that Masako fell ill.

This may sound a bit mysterious, and so I will try to explain what I mean: I think it was for a reason that Masako had in the beginning a problem to fall in love with Naruhito. WE know that he was very much interested in her from the first day but for her this might have been not so very clear. It looks very much like Naruhito urgently wanting something that he was trying to win her over slowly but surely with the meetings he organized. (see: “ Complicated courtship ”, p.6) But without a closer knowledge of his personality it might have been puzzling for Masako that there were weeks and months passing before he invited her again. This is not a behaviour that you would usually expect from an ardent lover...

Even when Masako was told that Naruhito wanted to marry her she then was, so to say, theoretically informed about the strength of his emotions but she probably never was able to FEEL his tender interest in her. I suspect that Naruhito had locked up his emotions so deeply inside himself because of his rigid education (see: “The “Naru-chan-constitution” I & II”, beginning of this thread) that he would have, IMO, been emotionally unattainable to any woman. Just take a look at the old pictures of him. You see a nice, good boy but someone who is much too controlled to touch your heart (or your body). His smile is rather lifeless and has no charm.

But Naruhito has changed over the years. On the latest pictures of him you see much more strength and emotional expression. And I think that this is partly owing to Aiko: with her he learnt to not be ashamed of his tender feelings and to openly express them. I also think that the obviously strong love that his little daughter bears for him has had a very healing effect on the crown prince. He who has felt rejected by all his loved ones, starting with his parents, has been spontaneously been loved back by his little darling daughter. This probably has changed much.

But what probably has changed him even more is the fact that he took the courage to speak his opinion and to brave all opposition when he found his wife´s life to be in danger. We know that he has always wanted his future partner to be able “to boldly speak her mind”. (see: “The crown prince in search for a wife, part I”) We usually admire in others what we find to lack in our own character. So I think that the crown prince felt himself lacking this ability. But he has proven himself to be wrong: by giving that famous press conference in May 2004 (see: “A prince steps up to the plate“) Naruhito has realized this cherished quality for himself. He has learnt to express himself, to lay open his deepest concerns to the public even under those very difficult circumstances. This may not have changed the situation (or, at least, not have ameliorated it). But it has, for sure, changed the prince´s personality.

Someone who is able to express his personal emotions is able to also call up another person´s emotions. And I do think that this has changed the relationship of the crown prince couple. In the first time after the prince`s “coming out” Masako could, of course, probably not feel much of anything because of her state of health. But I happen to think that as she came gradually back to life she also began to look at her husband in a new, different way. I cannot prove that, of course. I may be wrong. It only seems to me that on the photos that have been taken of them in the last one or two years you see a connection between the couple that is less formal, less official and more heartfelt and emotional. And Masako looks to me, for the first time, like a loved woman. Before she married and during the first years of her marriage she looked good, active, pretty, lively. But rather like a businesswoman. Now, it is her sister-in-law, Kiko, who has the more professional look (also concerning the haircut as someone remarked in another thread) while Masako looks more female and, well, like a woman who is in the habit of receiving tender attention. I do think that she has finally learnt to love her husband. But I also think that – as much as this may fill her heart with happiness - this cannot and never will make her fully forget that she has not succeeded in giving the service to her country that it has always been her desire to render.
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  #133  
Old 07-15-2008, 03:24 PM
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ChiaraC- I have never read an entire thread before, but once I started on your great "book report" I couldn't stop. Thank you so much for taking the time to translate this book. The IHA has always been such a mystery to me but with your insight, it is a little clearer.
Again, THANK YOU very much - Rebafan
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  #134  
Old 07-21-2008, 07:59 AM
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Thank you very, very much, Rebafan! I am, of course, very glad to hear this.
I have started doing this translation because I am so very fascinated by this story myself but I am thrilled to hear that my enthusiasm obviously "shines through" and is transferred to others. How lucky we are to have these international forums where we can share what we are interested in!

Honestly, my friends (in everyday life) do not want to hear about the complicated problems of the Japanese imperial family... I might get them to talk about the royal families of Danmark or Norway because of them they have, at least, seen some pics and know some names.
But Japan! I do not suppose that they could tell the name of a single member of the imperial family...

So, I am very glad to have you to share this special interest with! And here we go for the very last parts!
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:06 AM
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Post The happy news get published

(This part as well as the following three are based on the third chapter of the book.)
The long search for the crown princess had come to an end – but still the public knew nothing of it. The Japanese media kept the promised silence.
But then this loyal silence was broken from outside, by a foreign newspaper: On the 6th January 1993 the "Washington Post" informed the public that Harvard-graduate Masako Owada was destined to become crown princess of Japan. The writer mockingly added that Japanese journalists were boiling with frustration because they were not allowed to present this sensational piece of news to the public.

The main Japanese publishers had a meeting on the very same day and there was but one opinion: it was unthinkable that the international press should report these news whereas only the Japanese media kept quiet on it. They informed the grand chancellor of the Kunaicho, Fujimori, of their decision who did not like it – the public should have been informed by the official announcement of the engagement that the Kunaicho was already preparing – but who naturally understood that under these circumstances there could be no other way.

And now the hunt was up… It began with an announcement on the same 6th January at 20.45 for which nearly all TV channels interrupted their broadcasting, saying that Masako Owada, 29 years, employee of the Foreign ministry, was to become crown princess. A bit later the newspapers issued special editions, and during the next weeks lots of articles, broadcasts and books were to follow. The Japanese nation was diligently informed about every single detail of Masako´s life and person: her favourite toy as a child (a rabbit), the name of her pet dog ("Chocolat"), her favourite dish (rice with curry), the label of her handbag (Paloma Picasso), her favourite music (classical) and so on. The nation behaved as if they had won the World Cup in soccer (this is for the Europeans among us – I do not know what it would be in the U.S. or in Australia – baseball?): cars driving around with loud tooting, people drinking sake and lighting fireworks. Banners with congratulations and good wishes written on them were to be seen dangling from many shops and private houses.

The Owada´s house looked once more like a beleaguered fortress, with 300 journalists in front of it, and press helicopters flying above it. On the first day after the announcement Masako accordingly did not leave the house, but on the next she was obliged to go to a hotel in Tokyo where the kunaicho had arranged a photo session for her. So, at 9.15 a.m. on that day the door of the Owada´s house was softly opened. The waiting crowd started cheering, photographers took pictures of every single movement of Masako, TV reporters were broadcasting live. Masako looked with a shy smile on the hullabaloo around her, made a bow and said: "Good morning". A reporter cried: "We have heard that you are having a cold?" Masako answered: "I am sorry that I was the cause for your worrying. I am fine."

Masako wore, unusual for her, a white-pink checkered blazer, a pink skirt, a shimmering pearl necklace and a long white light coat. The cool modern outfits she had been in the habit of wearing, with dark colours: black, grey or crimson, seemed to be history now. Masako obviously understood that as she became the future crown princess expectations concerning her appearance and behaviour had changed. On the press conference with Naruhito on occasion of their engagement that took place on the 19th January 1993 she accordingly wore a female silk suit in light yellow, a hat of the same colour with a rose on it, pearl earrings and a pearl necklace. But as Fritz and Kobayashi comment, although she could change her way of dressing in a moment, she could not do the same with her character. So, her first official appearance called up the same controversial reactions that have accompanied her unceasingly since that day.
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:12 AM
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Post Great expectations

Conservatives criticized Masako for speaking on this first press conference sentences like: "It is possible that this is an impolite way of expressing it but the prince is a person with a balanced character…" Or: "I basically share the prince´s opinion. But if I may add something with my own words…" Or: "If I can help the prince…"

(I suppose that at this point most Westerners in this forum will, like me, drastically feel the cultural gap. Fritz and Kobayashi explain that the traditional expectations demand that a bride or wife should treat her husband with high respect and should show her own intelligence and wisdom only sparingly. This is well and good, in my opinion, but I really do not see what should be disrespectful in a phrase like "…the prince is a person with a balanced character…", even if she had NOT apologized before for the liberty she took in uttering it. If you told me that I had a balanced character I would simply answer: "Thank you for the compliment." I really cannot perceive anything so very horrible in this sentence.)

However, even Masako´s uncle, Akira Owada, said afterwards that his niece had been presenting herself "too honest" and, accordingly, "too vulnerable". What he especially meant by that was that she had admitted to have met the prince after five years of separation although she knew his feelings for her and was, herself, not yet ready to accept his marriage offer. By this confession some people received the impression that she was thoughtless and frivolous and did not care to reflect seriously upon her actions. Fritz and Kobayashi say that she should have, at least, given an explanation WHY she had decided at the time to meet the prince despite her ambivalent feelings.

At last, the critique of Masako reached a rather absurd level: some commentators diligently counted how many times Masako had used the word "I" during the press conference. The scandalous result: 13 times. (Her mother-in-law Michiko, on her own engagement press conference, had succeeded to do completely without this egotistical pronoun.) But the worst was but to come: Naruhito had occupied 9 minutes and 9 seconds of speaking time, Masako, meanwhile, 9 minutes and 37 seconds – 28 seconds more! Now this was really coming close to being a sacrilege for, as Naruhito´s teacher Minoru Hamao put it: "When the prince utters three sentences Masako is permitted to speak but one."

Conservative journalists criticized Masako for being "not sufficiently Japanese" and for having a deteriorating influence on the mystic qualities of the imperial family. When on a drive-out with the prince the princess-to-be was the first to leave the carriage and even dared to walk some steps in front of him newspapers wrote: "Masako does everything like in America: "Ladies first". In Japan she should behave with more modesty." Or: "Masako looks like a Japanese woman but in her essence she is a foreigner." By the newspaper "Yomiuri" Masako was called a woman "with strong opinions" – and this was not a compliment…

I cannot help remarking at this point though that, spoken by the crown prince, these same words WOULD have been a compliment – one of the best he had to offer… And, accordingly, there were also a lot of people in Japan who, like their future tenno, set big hopes on Masako – for the very reasons that made the conservatives fear for the welfare of the monarchy. These people hoped that Masako could become the symbol of an open and international Japan. She even might have the potential to become known to the whole world as the human face of a nation that was, up to then, usually being associated with impersonal brands like Sony or Toyota. The liberal newspaper Asahi wrote: "This is the beginning of a new era as Masako Owada is a first-rate businesswoman." Another periodical commented: "There are only few people left who still want the imperial family to hide themselves behind the chrysanthemum curtain." Professor Kuniko Inoguchi - who taught law at the renowned Catholic "Sophia"-university - optimistically declared that although Masako would, of course, adapt to the traditional institution of the monarchy she nevertheless, in the long run, would "make use of her abilities to reach her ultimate goals".

Although these both positions of conservative and liberal Japanese seem to be (and, in fact, are) highly contradictory they still reflect – when put together - very clearly the expectations that the general public in Japan bears towards the crown princess, as Fritz and Kobayashi point out. According to most people, Masako should not be EITHER "traditionally Japanese" OR "international", not "close to the people" OR "every inch a princess", not "traditionally modest" OR "intelligent", she should be all these things at the same time. She should harmonically unite tradition and modernity, without ever suffering from the contradiction herself and without ever raising discordance or disagreement in the nation. So, although there obviously WAS a big gap already existing in the nation between those who yearned for ancient Japan and those who yearned for change and progress, as the reactions on Masako´s first public appearance clearly showed, it was the task of the future crown princess not only to keep herself in untroubled serenity amongst these fighting parties but, surpassing that: to miraculously become the point of harmony in which these oppositions would become peacefully united.

Asked too much? Well, the tenno is said to be descended from a goddess – if Masako wanted to prove herself to be a worthy member of this celestial family she could be fairly challenged to work a goddess´s miracle…
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:23 AM
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Post The wedding ceremonies

Fritz and Kobayashi remark that Masako - who had always intended to spend her life working as a diplomat and who - when thinking of the future - had probably been dreaming of a Japanese embassy somewhere in Paris or New York - could hardly have guessed that she would take part some day in one of the longest and most ancient wedding ceremonies that exist in the world. We have to add, though, that "most ancient" is true for the elements of the ceremony but not for the ceremony itself: in this exact form it had been used for the first time on the wedding of the later Taisho-tenno (reigning 1912-1926), Naruhito´s great-grandfather.

(It seems to me that this is rather typical for a lot of things around the Japanese imperials: at first sight, it is always about very, very ancient traditions that have to be devoutly respected just because they are so very ancient – but when you look at it more closely, most of the elements may indeed be ancient but the actual form is often not much older than one or two generations… Actually, it sometimes reminds me a bit of Neuschwanstein : in the 19th century, the middle ages (and knights, castles and beautiful ladies etc.) were very much "the fashion" in Germany, and things were done and built in the "middle age style". (Neuschwanstein is but one example.) But all these things in the so-called "middle age style" did not bear much similarity with how things were in the REAL middle ages. The castles at that time had to be strong fortresses, and they were, in fact, neither pretty nor comfortable. A sleeping-beauty-Walt-Disney-architecture like Neuschwanstein would never have done for them…)

However, the marriage rites Masako had to undergo WERE complicated, and they neither started on the day of the wedding nor did they end with it.

The first act was the ceremony for the offering of the engagement gifts. This took place on the 12th April 1993 at nine o´clock a.m.. (Which meant that Masako on that day had to get up at five o´clock – it takes a lot of time to get dressed in a traditional kimono.) This part of the ceremonies was indeed very old: it took place for the first time in the first century, and, obviously, the main thing here is the symbolism, not the material value of the gifts that consist of silk, sake and two breams. (Silk is a symbol for wealth, sake is used as a ritual gift to the Shinto gods and the fish is for a pun: "bream" is in Japanese "tai" and this syllable is also to be found in the word "omedetai": "luck-bringing".) Then the crown prince had to visit three Shinto shrines in order to personally announce his engagement to the gods. After that he would go see his parents and officially inform them that the engagement gifts had been accepted. And finally the three Owadas would also come to the palace to exchange civilities. Now, Naruhito and Masako were officially engaged.

The second act, the announcement of the wedding day, took place on the 20th April 1993 at ten o´clock. Again, Masako had to rise rather early. And, finally, for the main act, the wedding, on the 9th June 1993, she had to get up at four o´clock in the morning as the prince´s chamberlain, Kazuo Yamash.ita (I have to put this period, otherwise the poor guy´s name is getting censured ) , would come to fetch her as early as 6.20. Masako bade goodbye to her sad parents and her weeping sisters and drove to the imperial palace. There she underwent a ritual purification and was dressed in her wedding kimono by the maids of the palace.

The wedding ceremony was to take place in the Kashiko-dokoro, the shrine of the sun goddess of Shinto, Amaterasu, who is said to be the ancestress of the imperial family. A lot of noble guests were present, including the siblings of the prince and Masako´s family. (Only the emperor and the empress did not attend. This was the usual custom.) After this ceremony Masako´s name was removed from the Owada´s family register as from that day she belonged to the imperial family. And as the tenno-family has, as the only family in Japan, no last name, Masako bore from that day on no last name either: now she was only Masako-sama, the honorable Masako.

After the shrine ceremony the emperor and the empress had to be officially informed by the couple of the wedding having taken place and to sit down with them to partake of a ritual meal. (This is indeed only a rite and nothing more: although the food is real they only pretend to eat on this occasion.)

The next thing the newly weds had to do was to show themselves and their happiness to the cheering crowd, to wave and to smile while they were driving from the imperial palace to the togu palace in an open car.
At six o´clock p.m. they were served another ceremonial meal in the togu palace, the first meal alone together in their home, as husband and wife. And again there were a lot of delicious and traditionally very meaningful dishes, and again they were required to only pretend to eat...

But this was still not the last time for them to be served symbolical food: After they had entered the bedroom (at nine o´clock and dressed in white kimonos as tradition required it) they saw 29 rice cakes on a small table (one for every year of the bride´s age…). At 10 o´clock, Shinto priests offered them to the couple (I really do not know what they did between nine and ten – maybe they just for once REALLY ate something? I sincerely hope it as in the official description of the whole day it is not mentioned that any of them had had a single meal from morning to night.) – however, the priests offered the cakes to the couple who tasted a bit of them and was then finally done for the day…

For the day - but not for the wedding ceremonies. First, from the 15th to the 17th June they had to sit down to dinner, every noon and every night for several hours, with their weddings guests, all belonging to Japanese high society, 2700 persons altogether. Second, one week later, they had to travel to Ise, 400 kilometers from Tokyo. Naruhito had to present his bride there to his ancestress Amaterasu: the shrine of Ise is her first home, so to speak.

But then they were still not done: they had to visit two more places, the shrine of the Jinmu-tenno (who is said to have been the first tenno). And finally Masako had to be presented to Naruhito´s (late) grandfather, the Showa-tenno, at his grave in a suburb of Tokyo, Hachioji.
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:29 AM
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Post The new crown princess

And now the time had come at last when Masako was actually living in that world of which she once had said that it was too different from hers as that she could ever consider entering it...

And already in her "preparation time" before the wedding she had found out that it was, in some respects at least, VERY different indeed. In only one and a half months (everything had to be done as fast as possible – the bride was already 29 years!) she had been taught about the most important things she had to get acquainted with in order to be a good crown princess. She had received lessons on subjects like courtly etiquette, customs and rites, the system of the imperial house, calligraphy, the writing of waka-poems and, of course, the most important thing: the spirit and the rites of Shinto.

We remember that in Japan the tenno is not only the head of the state but also the highest priest of Shinto. It takes a rather huge part of the time of the emperor and the empress and also of the rest of the imperial family to carry out Shinto ceremonies to further the welfare of the people. This is usually done in private, without an audience or without, at least, journalists who could inform the public about the things going on there. Accordingly, it is often overlooked by the public what an important role Shinto is playing in the life of the imperials.

As Fritz and Kobayashi point out the imperial Shinto ceremonies have always been something that women entering the imperial family had to learn. (As the men are born into the family instead of marrying into it they grow up with this knowledge.) And among all the princesses in Japanese history it was very probably Masako who had the hardest time in learning this lesson. Not only because she was a commoner and had only six weeks to learn (Her mother-in-law, Michiko, who had been a commoner, too, had, at least, been given three months for her bridal preparations.), but also because she had passed two thirds of her education abroad. (Although the imperial Shinto ceremonies bear, of course, a special character Shinto plays a certain role also in the life of Japanese commoners, especially on occasions like marriage or the birth of children.) As Fritz and Kobayashi explain it is very difficult to understand Shinto without ever having had an everyday experience of its rites and its way to look at things, without having had the opportunity to feel the specific connection with nature that is fundamental for it. As they say there is a lot in it that you can only feel and experience, and it will get you only to a certain point of understanding if you have to rely on intellectual explanations. But, unfortunately, it will take years to understand its essence by experience, so in her situation all Masako could do was to rely on her brains and hope for the best. She was obliged to take the same path a Westerner would follow if he wanted to understand a bit of this religion. And, accordingly, she used for her studies an English book, called: "The world of Shinto"…

So, when Masako was asked by the press about her progress in learning she had to admit that there were a lot of things that she was hearing of for the very first time. But she staid optimistic: already several times in her life she had been challenged to learn new things, even to adapt to completely new concepts of life and learning. And she had always succeeded at last to manage - by sheer perseverance. So she told the journalists: "I will use my new knowledge as a fundament and always make efforts to learn more."

Actually, as the long struggle for clarity concerning the question if she should accept the crown prince´s marriage offer, or not, had finally come to an end Masako was, at last, very happy with the decision she had made. She was thoroughly convinced that she was doing the right thing, the best for her country, for the prince and for herself. One of Masako´s friends, Yukie Kudo, said that neither she nor other friends of Masako´s had ever seen her with such a brilliant, happy smile as on her wedding day...

And neither the complicated ceremonies of the wedding nor the beginning of her life as crown princess that daily brought her new lessons could discourage the newly wed princess. She had always enjoyed learning new things. And on the press conference on occasion of her first birthday as Japanese crown princess she happily told the public: "When I am attending to my duties (as crown princess) I feel fresh enthusiasm with every new experience."

THE END
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:38 AM
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Post Contents

As I have not adhered to chronology in doing this summary I thought it might be useful to put an overview of the contents here. So, if you want to read the summary in chronological order you will just read IV, II, III, I. And I think it might be also helpful in case you want to just look up what Fritz and Kobayashi say (for example) about the probability of artificial insemination having been used or about the role and power of the kunaicho or whatever. So, you will not be obliged to read the whole thing if you want to get informed concerning a certain detail but can just check the contents here.
(The numbers are indicating the pages. On page 3 there is a discussion going on, so there is no part of the summary on it.)

Introduction p.1

I The conflict in the imperial family (chapters 6 & 7)

The "Naru-chan-constitution" I p.1
The "Naru-chan-constitution" II p.1
A mission together p.1
The vision becomes reality – not p.1
Three good reasons for staying at home… p.1
The kunaicho p.1
Too much consideration p.1
Strong characters p.2
An heir for the chrysanthemum throne? Part I p.2
An heir for the chrysanthemum throne? Part II p.2
A god becomes human p.2
Mystic symbol p.2
Committed to the world´s peace and happiness p.4
Jealousy p.4
A prince tears down the chrysanthemum veil p.4
Counterstrike, part I p.4
Counterstrike, part II p.4

II Waiting for a child and the birth of Aiko (chapter 4)

Tactlessness of a German newspaper p.4
An advice to an Asian princess p.5
The stork is busy elsewhere… p.5
Miscarriage p.5
"Scientific techniques" p.5
Aiko p.5

III The crown princess falls ill (chapter 5)

A happy family p.5
Wind of change p.5
The crown princess falls ill p.5
Time to go home p.5
A prince steps up to the plate p.5
The imperial family in the limelight p.5

IV First meeting, courtship and marriage (chapters 2 & 3)

Masako growing up p.6
The crown prince in search for a wife, part I p.6
Complicated courtship p.6
The crown prince in search for a wife, part II p.6
The crown prince in search for a wife, part III p.6
Masako reconsidered p.7
Second try p.7
Never give up p.7
The happy news get published p.7
Great expectations p.7
The wedding ceremonies p.7
The new crown princess p.7
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:40 AM
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Wink

I have always made a point to let it become clear which of the things I say is part of the summary and which is just my opinion but I see that in the part "Great expectations" the last remark (about Masako being required to work a goddess´s miracle) might be taken as part of the summary. For clarification: the last part about the contradictory expectations of the public towards Masako is indeed a summary of what Fritz and Kobayashi say but the very last remark about the goddess´s miracle is NOT Fritz and Kobayashi, that is just my own sarcasm overflowing…
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