Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne

Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne

by Ben Hills
     
 

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The tragic true story of Japan's Crown Princess-with a new afterword by the author.

It's the fantasy of many young women: marry a handsome prince, move into a luxurious palace, and live happily ever after. But that's not how it turned out for Masako Owada. Ben Hills's fascinating portrait of Princess Masako and the Chrysanthemum Throne draws on

Overview

The tragic true story of Japan's Crown Princess-with a new afterword by the author.

It's the fantasy of many young women: marry a handsome prince, move into a luxurious palace, and live happily ever after. But that's not how it turned out for Masako Owada. Ben Hills's fascinating portrait of Princess Masako and the Chrysanthemum Throne draws on research in Tokyo and rural Japan, at Oxford and Harvard, and from more than sixty interviews with Japanese, American, British, and Australian sources-many of whom have never spoken publicly before-shedding light on the royal family's darkest secrets, secrets that can never be openly discussed in Japan because of the reverence in which the emperor and his family are held. But most of all, this is a story about a love affair that went tragically wrong.

The paperback edition will contain a new afterword by the author, discussing the impact this book had in Japan, where it was banned.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Disappointing portrait of Japan's enigmatic princess, offering few new insights. When career diplomat Masako Owada finally agreed to marry Crown Prince Naruhito, the Japanese public was thrilled. Smart, beautiful Princess Masako was supposed to be Nippon's answer to Diana Spencer. In unexpected ways, she is: The royal marriage, like that of Charles and Di before it, has never been a bed of roses. Australian journalist Hills follows the line that most Western reporters have taken. In his view, the Harvard-educated princess, accustomed to being her own woman, has had an extremely difficult time adjusting to the strict restrictions placed on Japanese royalty. (Masako has to receive permission to travel and even to see her family.) These strains were exacerbated by fertility problems, and when the princess finally did give birth, she failed to produce an heir to the throne; the baby was a girl. The stress culminated in 2004 with Masako's withdrawal from public life to nurse a debilitating depression. Hills's prognosis for the princess is bleak. "One by one [Masako's] friends and family will drift away," he predicts, and "she will live to regret" marrying into royalty. Only the book's final 100 pages directly address the royal marriage itself; the first two-thirds introduce Masako and Naruhito and summarize their courtship. Hills was not granted an audience with the royal couple, and much of his information feels third-hand; interviews with Masako's teachers at Harvard hardly seem like the inside scoop. The author employs a good bit of guesswork and plenty of phrases like, "One can only imagine the debate which must have gone on." The quaint euphemisms scattered throughout the text don't helpeither. Rather than go into labor, for example, the princess "felt her time had come."Perhaps the best that can be expected, given the media's lack of access to the princess, but certainly not the rich, dishy immersion into Masako's life that interested readers await.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101216101
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/2006
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
528,384
File size:
889 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Ben Hills, one of Australia's leading investigative journalists and foreign correspondents, is a winner of the Walkley Award (Australia's Pulitzer) and the Graham Perkin Award for Australian Journalist of the Year. From 1992 to 1995, he was the Japan correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, also covering issues and events in China, Siberia, and North and South Korea. His previous books are Japan: Behind the Lines, an account of his three years as a correspondent in Japan, and Blue Murder, a chronicle of the battle for justice by victims of CSR's Wittenoom asbestos mine in western Australia. He lives in Sydney.

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