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Old 11-19-2007, 06:54 AM
zinzen's Avatar
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I would like to know if the book will be translated into French, Thanks
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Old 11-20-2007, 08:57 PM
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Thanks for finding this thread. I tried to find it in response to someone else in another thread without luck.
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Old 11-29-2007, 03:06 PM
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Location: Hiawassee, United States
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Well our small town Library finally got the book for me. I think it was very well written. I finally finished it, what an eye-opener. Its hard to believe that her father allowed his daughter (who kept saying no to CP Naruhito for 5-years) to wed into this type of life. Although Masako's father has been well compensated for his daughter giving up her life, now a Judge @ the Hague and living a very nice life, hope her father appreciates her sacrifice, but probably thinks its his right. Oh well, at least she has a supportive husband (although he must do all the Royal duties alone) and a lovely daughter.
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Old 12-22-2007, 04:30 PM
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Has anyone read the Ben Hills book "Princess Masako, Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne" yet? (I saw several references to it, but no one actually said they'd read it.)

I downloaded it from eReader the other day, and it's interesting, but so far, I'm not too impressed with the writing or accuracy, at least with his reporting about Masako's life in the U.S.

For instance, he talks about her attending Belmont High School, where "the uniform is gangsta rapper chic -- forage caps on backwards, baggy pants, football jumpers and sneakers." I have no idea what this school is like today, but I'm certain that no one was wearing that back in the late 70s and early 80s when Masako was a student there -- the first rap songs hadn't even been written back then, and kids didn't dress like that in those days.

He paints a similar picture of Harvard as some kind of rundown, urban Sodom-and-Gomorrah where parents would be afraid to send their children. It's just not so. While it's true that it is in an urban area that has "urban problems" like anywhere, it's a beautiful campus and a lively, student-oriented community.

He also makes it sounds like living in the dormitories at Harvard was some kind of public housing or orphanage that Masako was relegated to because her parents were out of the country. Most students live on campus, especially as freshmen -- in fact, many universities demand it, so kids can get into campus life.

For all I know, the rest of the book may be entirely accurate, but I really have to wonder given the degree to which he is spinning the descriptions I can confirm firsthand.

I'm curious to hear what other readers think.
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:23 AM
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Wellllllll.....I read it. I dont know what the US school system or lifestyle is or was like, but I have a sneaking suspicion its not entirely correct.

For one thing, some of the the facts seem not quite right since some of it quite common knowledge, and he still made a big mistake about it.

But other than that, I have no idea what else in his book is true or not.

What's your opinion about it?
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Old 12-23-2007, 08:30 AM
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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I read it when it first came out in Australia, a few months before its US release and I've written about the fact that there are a number of errors in the earlier threads about Masako. The errors I pointed out weren't about the US school system so it's interesting to see even that was written about incorrectly!

Search through the older threads and you'll find reference to the book, not in the book thread though! I've only just found that!

Masako is living in a very conservative royal family but Ben Hills didn't report it accurately. He has too many errors and distortion of facts so they will fit with the scenario that he wants to paint. Unfortunately this then discredits his book as too many people are able to identify the errors he makes.
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Old 12-26-2007, 10:23 PM
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Location: Seattle, United States
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Cool I will buy the book when it comes out in PAPERBACK, here in the US

Well, I liked the book alot, when I checked it out of our Library System to read awhile back, about two months ago now.

I will buy it, for my personal collection, when it comes out in paperback, here in the USA, tomorrow.

I didn't think it was scandalous, at all, really!

It was honest, and sympathetic towards The Crown Princess, actually.

I can recommend that everyone here at least READ the book before passing judgment upon it, please.

Thank you,

-- Abbie
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Old 12-30-2007, 02:13 AM
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Thumbs up I just purchased the PAPERBACK version of this book ...

I just purchased the PAPERBACK version of this book, TODAY!

I read the hardback version of it earlier, having checked it out of our library, and decided I wanted to OWN the book.

I can recommend it to everyone!
It's a heckuva read.

-- Abbie
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Old 05-07-2008, 01:38 PM
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Just a quick note.

For anyone who has been planning to read this, or for those who have already read it and want to reread and discuss it some more : The TRF Book Club will be reading and discussing this book together in July.
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:09 AM
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I just read this book and Im not sure i liked it. For one it was very long and drawn out. I really did not cae to read about the past history of the royal family or of Masako's fathers's career. But I guess it was the back drop of what was to come. i was very surprised about her schooling and then to give up all of that hard work. She does seem very repressed by the imperial guards! I hope for her sake and her daughter that when she is impress that something will change. Not that I think it will. As long as there is an Imperial family they will always have their guards. I dont think the guards are going to let anything change, why would they, they would be out of a job.
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:28 AM's Avatar
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Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
If Japanese people who can read English are interested in the book, I assume they'll be able to order it from Amazon in the USA or the UK.

I wonder how the Queen feels about the power of the imperial family and their top advisers to put the brakes on publication of something they don't happen to approve of. Must be quite jealous, considering what's been going on in the British press for the last couple of decades.
But Japanese royals can't have their own business venture as Brittish royal do. So you can't have everything....

Speaking of wich, does Japanese royal family ranch, like Goryo for example also has business function?
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Old 09-09-2011, 01:54 PM
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This book was mentioned several times in this thread of the Japanese forum, and I´d like to make several remarks concerning it.

Aliza, if you are interested in the imperial family, I think the book is very well worth reading. You just should not forget to make good use of your discernment skills and of your ability to think for yourself. (You have, of course, to also consider that there are not too many sources available anyway, so we are not in a position to be overly fastidious.) You get an overview about the whole story by it, at least of the main facts that are known. Although there are some mistakes that really should not be there (details on the former pages of this thread), the most dates are, in fact, correct. You should just be prepared, on your further way through life, to sometimes find out that one or the other detail that you have read in Hills´ book is not quite correct and not be too disappointed then. You also have to be aware that lots of the facts are simply not known to the public, so nearly every author will give you a different version (for example, regarding the question of how the crown prince came to make the decision to give his „scandalous“ news conference in 2004). I oftentimes disagree with Hills` interpretations or characterizations, but that, in a way, goes without saying and is to be expected.

Personally, I am ambivalent towards the book. On one hand, I find it especially interesting to read what several persons say about the prince and the princess who have met them, for example, at school (no very close friends). While those impressions are, of course, very subjective, they add tiny, personal details to what I already believe about the couple. Also, I am rather fascinated by the scary story that Warwick McKibbin (who was once assigned to tutor Masasko for her economics degree) has told. (It is to be found on pages 27/28.) When you will have read it, just let me know what you think about it (only if you like, of course).

On the other hand, I sometimes find Hills too narrow-mindedly western, if that makes any sense. I am not one of those who think that tradition and religion cannot be criticized just because they are tradition and religion. They can and should be, if necessary. But, imo, there should always a factual reason be given for the critique, and it should be respectfully done and not in a ridiculing or mocking way.

To give an example for what I mean: when the crown couple, after their wedding, paid their respects at the Ise Shrine, there was a rite of two virgin shrine attendants rubbing Masako´s belly with rice bran (to ensure fertility). Hill comments: „No matter how diligent the coaching, one cannot help wondering what a modern career woman like Masako really thinks of all the mystical mumbo-jumbo.“ Now, I do not take issue with discussing what Masako might have felt in the situation – that is an interesting question indeed. But I do mind the wording („mystical mumbo-jumbo“). First, I think that Hills has no business to ridicule other people´s beliefs, and second, I am afraid that with his attitude he misses out on an important dimension of the story as well as of Masako´s character. While he talks of „wondering“, he seems to be pretty sure already that the princess shares his own feeling of slightly contemptuous, amused amazement. But I strongly doubt that he is right. Masako is Japanese, she has parents who have taken great efforts to get their daughters acquainted with Japanese manners and culture. For some time during her childhood, she attended a rather traditional Japanese girls-only school. And while her father gave her the advice to stay in the US for her career, it was she who absolutely wanted to go back to Japan and use her skills to serve her country. So, I really doubt that she thought anything like „mystical mumbo-jumbo“. Of course, the rite was probably somewhat foreign to her, but, in all likeliness, she also felt intrigued, fascinated and/or awed.
Hills defends Masako, but it seems to me that he defends her as „one of us“ (westerners) against „them“ (old-fashioned, superstitious, Asian barbarians). This aspect of the book I do not like AT ALL , and I am afraid that this has not helped to further a good understanding between different nations and cultures. Besides, it does not do justice to the princess who might want the public to get informed about her situation but who would probably resent her fate being used to put down Japanese culture and tradition.

You also might like to take a look at one of the following links: Aussie journo defends princess book, Why I am Banned in Japan, Australian author of Princess Masako biography receives death threats
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Old 10-01-2011, 01:28 PM
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It's too bad Hill didn't try harder to transcend his biases. Perhaps he's aiming his book at a biased audience, though. It's also too bad there's not more written about Masako from a less biased point of view.

He also appears to try and find biases (against Harvard's neighborhood? And Belmont High?? Silly).
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Old 10-01-2011, 03:42 PM
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I own a copy of this book and found out sp many things about masako and her transition into the imperial family of japan and becoming the crown princess of japan. It was sort of a good book with most of it being the author's points and biasness and found out that the crown princess is suffering from depression.
" An ugly baby is a very nasty object, and the prettiest is frightful when undressed."
- Queen Victoria
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:23 PM
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"Mumbo Jumbo" what an elitist SOB! He seems like a bigoted, biased, pale skin who thinks he's better than the far East. I was looking into this book but now I am happy I didn't buy it. I feel for Masako, but so far we are just getting one side of the story.
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Old 10-02-2011, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by PrincessKaimi View Post
It's too bad Hill didn't try harder to transcend his biases. Perhaps he's aiming his book at a biased audience, though. It's also too bad there's not more written about Masako from a less biased point of view.

He also appears to try and find biases (against Harvard's neighborhood? And Belmont High?? Silly).
I think those comments on Harvard and Belmont High are not due to him not liking them, they just serve to sharpen the contrast (between wellbehaved young Masako and her wild western environment ) - that´s his journalist instinct taking over, I am afraid.
I do not like it, but in order to be just, one would have to admit that this is not all he says in his book about these educational institutions. The most part of what he writes concerning them is actually quite serious. (Incidentally, having read the book, I´d like to add: if I were you, I would not unquestioningly believe ALL that is written in this thread about it. If you are really and seriously interested in this matter, I´d recommend to read it yourself and share your impressions at TRF...)

However, you are absolutely right, of course, generally speaking. But if Hills´ book did not have this element of West-against-East bias (which, frankly, could be much worse still), I doubt that it would have become an international bestseller. Maybe it would not even have been published. In the other thread, I have several times mentioned the book by Martin Fritz and Yoko Kobayashi about Masako which I find much more balanced than Hills´ book and that never lacks respect towards Japanese traditions. I have always thought it a pity that it was not translated into English to make it available to a far greater number of readers. But I was not surprised that it did not happen. The book was too balanced to be attractive for worldwide publication. (It was not a bestseller in Germany either. There is not much coverage of the IF in Germany, nor seems to be much interest.) Sensational reporting simply gets much more attention - not only in western countries, incidentally. Before Hills´ book had been translated into Japanese, weekly magazine Shukan Asahi introduced the book, stating in the headline that the crown prince and princess intended to leave the Imperial Household. The Imperial Household Agency sent an official letter to protest against this false information. The magazine editor responded that the article was to introduce the book, implying without actually saying so, that he had been quoting Ben Hills (which gave the book a bad reputation right from the start). But, as a matter of fact, Hills has never asserted anything like that. So, I think, in dealing with this book you have to always be aware that, although it does have its faults, there are, in fact, people who have an interest in making it even worse than it is. In his article on why he was “banned in Japan” (link above), Hills explains why this is so, and I am convinced that, in this case, he is absolutely right. It is only a pity that he does not also admit that he has given his critics more reason to complain than would have been desirable by making several factual mistakes.

I know it is frustrating but, in this matter, the truth seems to never be simple. Imo, Hills´ book has its faults, but it also does have its merits.
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Old 01-19-2012, 07:08 PM
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Controversy on Ben Hill's book

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Old 12-07-2017, 01:20 PM
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Biased or not, I did appreciate his description of the Shinto traditions and temples. Some of it was quite interesting.
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