"Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne" by Ben Hills (2006)

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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?
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 :ermm: 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 :nonono:, and I am afraid that this has not helped to further a good understanding between different nations and cultures. :sad: 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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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 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.
"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.
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 :rolleyes:) - that´s his journalist instinct taking over, I am afraid. :sad:
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. :ermm: (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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Biased or not, I did appreciate his description of the Shinto traditions and temples. Some of it was quite interesting.
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