Imperial Family of Japan books
I bought the bio of Hirohito, but are there any others that anyone here has read?
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
I have got a bio of Meiji Emperor,but I have to check the title of the book, and I find it quite good!
Please read the "The Silver Drum: A memoir of the Late Princess Chichibu of Japan". It is written in Japanese by the Late Princess. Translated into English. I just read the book recently. It's ok.
Please also read the "The world is one" which is a memoir written by the Late Princess Yi Banjia. She was born a Japanese Imperial Princess. She married the last Crown Prince of Korea. I think this is a better memoir than the one written by Princess Chichibu. This memoir is also available in English.
"The Commoner" by JOHN BURNHAM SCHWARTZ (book about the story of Empress Michiko)
How a Japanese Empress Inspired an American Literary Prince
..........Mr. Schwartz went on to regain literary success as well as a happy domestic life. But something about that early cocktail of emotions is echoed in “The Commoner,” his latest novel, which is being published Tuesday by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday.
Told from the point of view of a fictional doppelgänger for Empress Michiko of Japan, the book traces the story of how the first commoner to marry into the Japanese imperial family was, at the age of 24, exposed to brutal public scrutiny and the unyielding rigors of royal life, robbing her of her identity and sending her into a crushing depression.
Granted, an early debut in the limelight aside, Mr. Schwartz, a white, boarding school-educated American man with unlimited freedoms and few qualms about anatomizing his emotional vulnerabilities, has little in common with a royal Japanese consort who has virtually no autonomy and lives a life of tragic reserve. He embraced the disjunction, although he sometimes questioned his ambitions.............
This book is going to be released on Jan. 22, 2008.
Found the book on Yahoo
Some translations from a book ("Michiko and Masako" by Tao Qi) about Empress Michiko
I have long interested in the Empress Michiko of Japan.
I bought alot of her photo albums, videos and dvds about her from Japanese websites. However, I've longed for a written book about her in a language that I can understand.
Recently I discovered a book in Chinese. As I am literate in Chinese, I am over-delighted to own this book.
This book was published in 2006. The author's name is Qi Tao. He is a Chinese and is now the World Chinese Literacy Organization's Japanese branch president. He has written a few other books about the Japanese society.
I presume there are people in this forum who would like to know more about the Empress other than bits and pieces reported about Her Majesty from various articles :smile:
So I would like to share the interesting parts of this book with all of you.
I will translate some everyday. Hope all of you will enjoy my translations:flowers:
It has been so kind of you to share this books with us. I am looking forward to reading your posts.:flowers:
Chapter 2: Michiko's parents
The person who set up Nisshin Seifun (Nisshin Flour Milling) was Michiko's paternal grandfather. In the 19th year of Showa (1944) June, he passed the company to his 3rd son, Michiko's father, Hidesaburo Shoda because his other children had all achieved success in other fields.
Hidesaburo Shoda was born in the 36th year of Meiji (1903) in Tokyo. He was a graduate of the then Tokyo Business College. He majored in British economic history. Graduated in 1927. Then he entred Mitsubishi and worked for 2 years. Then he started all over again in his father's company. After WWII, only three factories out of the various factories survived. Under Hidesaburo's leadership, he set up the revival committee for his father's company. He rebuilt the bombed factories and with the help of American technologies, he upgraded everything. Once again, he brought good profit to Nisshin in a near-destroyed country. The Prime Minister of that time，Yoshida Shigeru， even asked Hidesaburo's help in giving ideas to solve food shortage in Japan. Hidesaburo later became the president of Japan's Seifu Club (Flour Milling Club). Since 1955, Nisshin largely expanded it's operations. Nisshin's employees were estimated around more than 3000 in numbers.
Shoda's family became one great wealthy family by Michiko's grandfather and father's effort.
However, Michiko's father's most luckiest part of his life was that he was married to Michiko's brilliant mother.
3 years after Michiko's father graduated from college (1929), he married Miss Fumiko Soejima. Fumiko was born into an elite family. She was born in the 42th year of Meiji (1909) in Shanghai, China. She lived in Shanghai with parents and 5 siblings for 16 years. She could speak Chinese and had good understanding of the Chinese culture. At that time, Fumiko's father worked for a Japanese organization called "国联会社" (sorry, I just don't know how to translate this into English, it was an organization controlling the Japanese resources to be transferred to China) and was also president of one of the three largest cotton companies' Shanghai branch. Fumiko's family resided in a four storey Western house with two Japanese maids and one Chinese cook. Their lifestyle was very comfortable. At that time in Shanghai, there were alot of Japanese power and there were also Japanese primary schools. In 1923, March, before the Kanto great earthquake, Fumiko went back to Tokyo with her family. They resided in Tokyo and Fumiko enrolled in Futaba Girls Senior School. Everyday she wore navy blue uniform, braded her hair, always looking clean and fresh. She enrolled in the 5th grade mid-year. At that time, she was already a beautiful girl. Futabal was not only a welknown school, it was also a Westernized school with Christian-denomination. There were often sermon services congregations which attracted alot of married women from the upper-class of Tokyo. Michiko's paternal grand-mother was one of them. She quickly discovered this excellent girl. Through the school's principal, Fumiko and Hidesaburo married. At that time, falling in love with eachother was not an essesential requirement. As long as the family background was good and good personality, leading to marriage was generally not difficult. Hidesaburo was an excellent man who achieved alot in life and who was quite educated, on the otherhand, Fumiko was pretty and sweet and intelligent. The guest who attended their wedding all praised that they were so matching!
After Michiko's parents got married, they went to Germany and lived there for 2 years. It was a period of romantic time. They had a son born in Berlin. Then they decided to go back to Japan. During that time, the world was facing economical crisis, but Shoda family did not get affected as the Shodas did not do risky business and plus the foundation was firm. So as a consequence, they lived a happy and stable life.
Fumiko was a good wife and mother. She later bore her husband 2 more girls and a son. She cared alot for her children. As a consequence, her children was all very close to her when growing up. Ever since kindergarten, she would guide and maintain her children's good habits and good academic result. She made the whole family's atmosphere a pleasant and loving one. As a consequence of Fumiko's guidance, the two sons all graduated from Tokyo University and the two daugthers graduated from Seishin University.
Her elderst son is now a high official of Japan's Central Bank and her younger son is now the President of Nisshin Seifu.
Out of her 4 children, Michiko was most excellent. As a result, she was the most troublesome one too. Her younger daughter, Emiko, was long ago engaged to an executing share-shareholder of Showa Electronics (rough translation). He has got a good family background. Emiko married after Michiko. So as a result, as the sister-in-law of the Crown Prince Akihito, Emiko had to get permission for marriage from the then Imperial House Agency. Showa Electronics (rough translation) was a company with long history. So it was great choice for Emiko!
When Fumiko's children was very little, Japan faced her historical hardship. Everyday, there were emergency news from the frontline and enemy's planes dropped bombs. Her eldest son was not even 15, lived in his high school. Husband, Hidesaburo was in Tokyo protecting his company. Fumiko fled to the countryside with the then 10 year-old Michiko, 4 year old Emiko and 2 year-old youngest brother. Fumiko, from her memory, said it was a difficult journey, so many people died horrifically, her children was so lucky that they were not at all hurt.
Fumiko married Hidesaburo when she was 19 year old. At the end of WWII, she was then 36 year-old. Fumiko was good at organizing family affairs. She wanted everything to be perfect, it was tiring for her. In social circles, the comments which were given to her were high. People said "her conversation was good, reasons were logical and complete, she was just like an upper-class madam of the Meiji period appearing in the Showa period". All these good comments were nothing comparing to her caring husband. No matter how busy Hidesaburo was, he would always came back home every evening to have dinner with his family. As a result, Michiko once said that her parents were much more happily married than married couples who dated immensely before getting married. The children's academic interest were immense and often Fumiko would play piano from classical works of famous European composers in the living room after dinner with her husband and children gathering around her.
This family's dramatic change to their lifestyle came about when Michiko married into the Imperial Family.
Initially, different former braches of the Imperial Family objected to Michiko and Akihito's marriage. They started hurting Shoda family with their hurtful words. They even protested to Fumiko and even commented that she was an inconsiderate Shanghainese. Though Shoda family objected to the marriage too and had did their best to prevent the marriage, they still, in the end, had to consent to the marriage.
After Michiko married into the Imperial Family, news came out of the Palace that Michiko's condition was really bad to the point of physically and mentally were breaking down. As a consequence, people would tell Fumiko about these things where-ever she went till she could no longer take them. From then on she stopped coming out of her house because those former Imperial family member were still viewing her as enemy. Fumiko finally got ill. Because of ill-mood, she finally got gastric ulcer till 1986, July, entred hospital. In 1987, Feburary, her illness got worse, Michiko was very worried, but couldn't visit her mother often because she couldnt go out without the police cars accompanying. In 1988, 20th May, Michiko received the news that her mother was gravely ill. This time, Michiko went to see her mother whether or not the police cars were following. At her mother's hospital bedside, she kept on calling her mother. Mircally, her gravely-illed mother regained her consciousness. They chatted affectionally. Michiko left. After a period of time (didn't mention how long), 2 days after Michiko and the then Crown Prince Akihito paid a visit to some kind of prefecture, Michiko received the news that her mother's condition was getting worse. She knew it would be the last time. But when she and her children arrived the hospital, Fumiko was already dead. Fumiko was 78 years-old.
At the time of Fumiko's death, Hidesaburo was still very healthy. With the death of Fumiko, Hidesaburo was even more lonely. Ever since Michiko got married, he lived a careful life. Everyday after work, he would try to minimise his extra-business affairs and went home straightaway. He stopped drinking alcohol and even stopped playing golf. Other than working, he would read books in his library. In the past, in-laws of the Imperial Family were regarded with ultra-high respect, possessing great power. However when it was Hisadeburo's turn, the reporters weren't even able to get a photo of him. He made sure no one would be able to comment anything negatively about him. Michiko was his favourite, whenever he missed her, he would look at the Blossomless fruit tree (i dont know the technical word for it) that Michiko planted shortly before she got married.
Hisadeburo's health were always excellent. Though he passed his company to his youngest son to manage, he still acted as honorable president till 8 years after his wife's death. He fell and entered hospital (1996) and his health declined. In 1999, 18th June, he died at the Tokyo St Lukes International Hospital. He was 95 years-old. He was a good husband, a good father and a good businessman. Michiko at the side of her father's body, mourned for a long time.
Thanks for the translation Poppy, thank you so much.... I truly admire Empress Michiko. Looking on her family backgroud, no wonder that she become a very great woman, a very great wife, a very great mother and in-law, and off course a very great Empress.
Chapter 3 (A): Michiko, from war-time to adolescence
Michiko was born in the then Tokyo University Hospital, in the 9th year of Showa (1934) 20th of October. When she was born, she was 3420 grams, was very healthy. She entered Futaba Kindergarten when she was 5 years old. She entered Futaba Elementary School when she as 6 years old. Her school grounds and buildings were very classical European style and were very clean.
Happy days were not long, 3 years after, Tokyo became the target of American forces. Michiko's mother Fumiko fled with her children. They lived for short periods in various places but none proved to be safe enough. In the end they fled to Michiko's paternal grandfather's old villa in Karuizawa after a long journey which consisted of climbing over hills and walking through forests.
After settling down in Karuizawa, Fumiko enrolled her children in the local schools. Karuizawa lacked resource, three meals consisted of vegetables, rough grains and sweet potatoes. Only occasionally when Michiko's father, Hidesaburo and Michiko's eldest brother came to visit, that proper food would be served.
During that unstable time, most people did not care about their appearance. Everyday, people were digging air-raid shelter. Michiko still kept up her appearance and went to school as usual. At that time, Tokyo had been badly air-raided. 120 000 people died caused by US B-29 planes bomb raided on respectively on the 9th March and 25th of May. Michiko and her family felt especially lucky that they had fled in to the mountains of Karuizawa.
That kind of days continued till the end of WWII. On the 15th of August, it was Japan's last day in WWII. Everyone listened to Emperor's speech broadcast. Some said the war was over and felt relieved, some wept and sighed. The children couldn't understand what the Emperor said because the speech was written using classical Japanese. At that time, there were more than 10 people in the Shoda family hiding in Karuizawa. They all wept in grieve. Till the end of the great war, Japan had became really weak, so alot of rumors started spreading: some said US troops would pin men's hands on warship decks and deliever to overseas countries to get judged, that women would become slaves, and properties would get confiscated. People were all living in anxiety.
Karuizawa in September had became cool, the leaves had turned brown. The three generations of Shoda family was still living in Karuizawa, afraid to go back to Tokyo. Their home in Tokyo had been bombed and the residues were being used by US troops. At that time, Michiko had elevated from grade four to five and had learned the local accent. She had also become her class prefect.
When winter was about to come, it had made living in the mountains quite difficult, the Shoda family moved to their hometown, Tatebayashi city of Gunma prefecture (群马县，馆林市).
In Tokyo, beggers and homeless people scattered around. According to news reports (Asahi Shinbun, 16/11/1945) , 6 and 24 people starved to death in Tokyo and Osaka Train Stations on average on a daily basis; in the streets of Tokyo, 300 people starved to death on average on a daily basis. In these days of hardship, Michiko started to learn English in a elementary school in her hometown. On her notebooks, she would put her English name "Michiko Shoda". In fact, the person who taught English was Michiko's mother, Fumiko as she was the only person who knew English in that countryside town. Fumiko learnt her English back in Shanghai (Japan forbade their people learning enemies' language during wartime).
In 1947, Fumiko decided to take her children back to Tokyo for the sake of giving them a proper education. However, the trains from Gunma to Tokyo were full packed of people and were really hard to board of any. The family had to throw in their luggage climb in through the windows. When they finally arrived in Tokyo, they couldn't recognize alot of places as alot of buildings were destroyed. They were lucky that they were able to temporarily live in one of their factories.
The first thing once they settled back in Tokyo were to resume Michiko's education. Futaba Elementary School, the school Michiko used to go to, was badly raided except for its chapel. Michiko studied in this chapel for 3 months and graduated.
Once she started resuming her study in Futaba Elementry School, under the temporary US troops' take-over of Japan, alot of text books were not allowed to be used, such as the historical ones that gave names to Britain and the US, and the geographical ones. However, the new texts book wouldnt come out in another two years time, so some parts of the old text books had to be covered by black ink. These books were being named as "black-ink book" (rough translation, the proper name is "黑墨书". The black-ink text books that Michiko had read are still being kept in text book museum.
In the same year Michiko graduated from Futaba, she entered Seishin School (Sacred Heart School). The reason been it was closer to home. Michiko only needed to walk to school. When she was going to Futaba, she had to catch various public transport which were often crowded with people, it made getting off often really difficult.
Seishin School is a Catholic educational institution that consists of kindergarten, elementary, junior & senior schools and university. Michiko was lucky that she received the most modern education once she entered this school. At that time, Seishin only allowed girls to enrol. In such an educational environment, Michiko's academic result was always at a leading position. Other than focusing on academic studies, she also participated in extra curriculars such as "vaulting", tennis, she was also really good in running. The extra highlight of what Michiko fell in love during this period of her lifetime was that of the literature. She was also able to draw and paint nicely, something she studied ever since elementary school days. Her artworks are now being kept by the school and are viewed as something precious.
Her maiden work in literature was a poem written about her dead uncle (her father's elder brother, her grandfather's 2nd elderst son). The poem's title is "Commemorate uncle" (rough translation, the proper name is 祭亡叔). This uncle died on the evening of the 25th of May, 1945, during an air-raid. During his 3rd annual memorial service, a young Michiko offered her poem. The poem reads like this: when you think about it, it was something that happened three years ago. The sky was blue and we were in the home in 鶮沼（湘南疏散地);everyone was with uncle, ready for a race. In the sand garden, uncle took off his top, ready! Pa, everyone started to run. After a few race, the winner was always uncle. If there was a race now, under your pair of glasses, you would still run infront of us with smile. Uncle's voice, face and smile would always be on my heart. Coming back to Tokyo from Karuizawa, everywhere changed their look. In my suitcase locked my eternal memory. Uncle we fondly remembers you!
This little poem was published in a collection of commemorating anthology. It was praised. The editor commented that it was an execellent piece and was very moving! Michiko's Karuizawa diary was later published too.
Other than the love for literature, Michiko went out for sketching on weekends. It is said that her love for literature and art was very deep because Michiko used to compile up her artworks that she created since she was 10 years-old for occassional appreciation. She had also had a watercolour painting called "Milk Bottle & Lemon" that she created to be hanged on her bedroom wall.
To be continued.
Thanks, Poppy! It's very nice from you to post these translations here, for all us to read. I know they must take a lot of time to do it, for I did the same in another site, translating a book from Spanish to English...in a rather clumsy way, since my English is not good. I know how much work it takes to translate something. Thank you again! :flowers:
Besides, the info you posted is unvaluable. Very interesting! Michiko Shoda is a great character from our times and deserves we studies her. Sure you'll help us to do so....:smile::flowers:
It is heart-warming that you all like my translations.
Due to the copyright law, I would generalize some parts of the chapters. It is very hard, as every bit of Empress Michiko is precious.
The second half of the book is about Crown Princess Masako. I will not translate this part, otherwise I would need to generalize all of Michiko's parts hehe.
Chapter 3 (B)
In relation to painting, Michiko had an essay called "Discussion on John Henry De Rosen's drawings（论亨利。罗森的绘画）＂(The English name of the artist could be wrong), published in her university's magazine during the 3rd year of her study. In the essay, it was mentioned that ever since she started to learn to draw & paint, she selected ten pieces and kept them in a wardrobe named "unselected salon". There was a painting called "Lilac", due to unproportioned top and bottom unpainted parts, decided to cut the bottom part by two centimetre, and put it in a frame and hanged it on a war that could catch the most sunshine. In the essay it was also mentioned taht Michiko's favourite artist was the great French artist Pierre Bonnard. She once painted something imitating his style and technique. From this essay, it was shown that Michiko had a good knowledge of European art. This essay of hers received many feedbacks especially in the artistic circle.
In her senior school years, she had five close friends. Their schoolmates called them "the naughty sive". These six girls always hanged around together and they had similar interested and they often came up with mischevious ideas. They were playmates and also academic opponents. Michiko always came first. These five clost friends all had good family background and one of them later became a well-known ballad singer. In the senior years, Michiko and this friend often performed together - one played the piano and the other sang. Michiko started learning to play piano ever since four years-old, only temporarily stopped during wartime. She was taught by the well-known pianist 河上绫子. The Shoda family owned a good German branded piano. Michiko's talent with piano added extra credit during overseas official visits in her later life.
In March 1953, Michiko graduated from Senior school. During the graduation ceremony, other than a great performance by the famous six, Michiko recited a poem called ＂离别曲“(literally means "leaving sonata") thanking her teachers. The poem consisted alot of beautiful sentences which I had difficulty to translate, so I decided not to translate. At that time, Michiko was seventeen years-old. This poem moved some teachers to tears.
When discussing a bit out marriage between friends, Michiko said there was no need to dating before marriage, arranged marriage was better, just like her parents. When the time comes, naturally there would be someone approaching. Who would know that later on, the man who approached her would be the Crown Prince Akihito!
Chapter 4 (A): Michiko's university life
In 1953, Michiko successfully made into Seishin Women's University (Tokyo Sacred Hearts Women's University). She majored in English Literature which was something she had decided to study long ago. She was the only one in her friendship circle who decided to obtain a degree. Though the university was not as strict as as the junior and senior schools, Michiko still studied hard and participated very little in other activities.
Michiko's result in her first year's university was A in basic philosophy, B in ethics studies, A in introduction in literature, B in English, A in general mathematics, A in Japanese history, A in sports, A in law, in which B in English was the highest mark offered being the university's most strict in grading students' achievement in English.
At the end of each semester, there were awards and other prizes presented to the students who achieved an overall mark of 90 or above. Michiko received the award four times and every year she was the top.
Michiko's studying technique was that listen carefully during classes but do not need to quickly jot down notes. However, before exam, she would compile a set of highlighted points and study them. Her schoolmates were all amazed at her hard work in studying hard at home everday after university.
Due to her great performance during the four years in university, she was selected as class captain in those four years. In the 4th year, she was selected as the President of her university's Self-governing Committee (literal translation).
Michiko also had great passion for the society and was very much interested in community issues. In the January of 1955, when Michiko was in the second year of her university, entered a young adult essay contest held by the Yomiuri Press (読売新聞 ). The theme of the essay was "Desire of the 20th year of age" (literal translation). At that time, 4185 essays entered the contest, in which, Michiko's "Not a rotten apple bitten by insects" (literal translation), was selected as the second best. This achievement stired the society and received alot of feedback.
The beginning of the essay says: "when greeting the arrival of the annual adult ritual, I need to again reflect on myself: we are living in a difficult period of time, but we should not be discouraged like the 19th century fatalist; otherwise, we would become like a javelin that never return and could not determine its final resting place - willingly to finally fall down gloomily, which makes the already wounded life more meaningless..." At the end of the essay, she quoted a maxim of a great French poet : "the living-being struggle hard to stay alive (rough translation)", to describe that she was not a rotten apple bitten by insects, but was in a new position altogther to make an effort with everyone to welcome the future. This university student echo a new voice and gave the society of that time a positive drive.
To be continued.
Chapter 4 (B):
In those four years in the university, Michiko was the President of Self-governing Committee and was also the promoter and performer of the English Drama Club. She starred in Classical Greek and mordern dramas and was very good with both. She also often represent the students to negotiate with the university on certian issues as the university's rules were extremely stricted.
Seishin University was an excellent higher institute in Tokyo. Other than great academic results, the university also placed emphasis on extra-cirriclum. The university's tennis group once made into the top 5 of a all women's univerisity competition. Michiko was the queen of that group.
Michiko's tennis was taught by a national player. Tuition fee was dear. Students had to pay for their tennis tuition fees. Michiko didn't care about the cost she only wanted to earn honour for the school. Because of the tuition, Michiko became an excellent player that even the Crown Prince couldn't combat her.
In 1957, 15th of March, she was chosen as the university's valedictorian to present a speech to over a thousand guest using English. It was astonishing that before leaving, many people congratulated Michiko's parents and expressed their compliment.
It was of course the university's deliberate act to show-off their ability to teach their students good English. Though some guest couldn't understand English, they still stood up and cried "umaierai" which means "it was great"!
After graduation, Michiko stayed at home. She painted and played piano, her life was very carefree. During such a period, marriage proposals came up and many sent in their CV (this is a tradition in Japan). One of the potential marriage partner was a deputy professor of Tokyo University. He was regarded as a good potential for Michiko in the eyes of the Shoda family.
Chapter 5 (A): Michiko's tennis competition
In the 32th year of Showa (1957), 19th of August, it was a fateful day for Michiko. On that day, a tennis tourament organized by a charity organization was being held in Karuizawa. The then Crown Prince Akihito was a member of the Karuizawa tennis club. Michiko was spending her summer holiday at her family's villa in Karuizawa.
During a competition, the Crown Prince Akihito paired up with his Waseda University friend, Michiko paired up with a 14 year old French boy. After the preliminary rounds, the two pairs played against eachother. In the three rounds, the results were 4:6, 7:5, 6:3. Michiko's group won two rounds.
During the competition, the audience included the Crown Prince's attendant, a judge of the high court of Japan and Michiko's mother, Fumiko. According to the Crown Prince's attendant, when it was close to the Crown Prince's defeat, the Crown Prince cried "do your best"! At this very moment, a lady sitting in the 3rd row said "sorry" in a little voice. The high court judge told him that it was Mrs Shoda, the girl's mother and that the girl's name was Michiko. When the competition finished, the attendant introduced Michiko to the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince wiped his sweat and said to another friend: we lost, we lost. No matter how we hit the ball, it always came back like an antelope. He and his friend walked to a cafe near the tennis court and sit down next to Michiko and her friends. They were still in the tennis gear holding their racket. They viewed eachother as players so there were not much constrainment. Michiko in her light tennis gear, her beautifully fair skin and her beautiful figure were visible. Her conversation were appropriate. All of these made a deep impression in the Crown Prince.
To be continued.
Thank you very much for the translations. Me too, I love to read what was wrote about Masako.
Do you know if there is any photo-book about the Imperial Japanese Family?
Regards and thanks!
"The commoner" by John Burnham Schwartz
Has anyone read the book "The commoner" by John Burnham Schwartz?
It is supposed to be pure fiction but the storyline is so close to what we know about
Masako and the Empress that is eerie to read about it.
(Except for the ending of course) this is almost biographical. Very interesting.
I have read rewiews on the book. I have heard that too...
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