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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, AmeIt'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....

Title : princess masako prisoner of the chrysanthemum throne
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ISBN : 8395616
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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princess masako prisoner of the chrysanthemum throne Reviews

  • Amy
    2019-03-18 03:29

    Interesting, especially if you don't know much about Japan's imperial family. Certainly, Masako has a sad story that is generally kept hush-hush. But I had a lot of problems with it. First, the author presents a lot of his own assumptions as fact, saying things like, "We can surely assume he was thinking xxx..."I also noted many factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations. The author talks about the Harvard campus as if it is some sort of lawless crazy town (with ALCOHOL!), when really it's pretty much like any campus anywhere. He also quotes someone from "Pennsylvania University," which does not exist. Is it Penn State University or University of Pennsylvania? I'm not suggesting it matters, but I was disturbed to see this kind of sloppy fact-checking. I only noticed this instance because I'm from Pennsylvania and know this first hand. What other inaccuracies did he cite in the book that I don't know enough to pick up on? Made me wonder. An interesting enough story, but take it with a grain of salt.

  • Louise
    2019-03-25 07:50

    While the title and focus is Princess Masako, the book is really an introduction to and an analysis of the Japanese royal family. Author Ben Hills, describes its position in Japan and how it compares and contrasts with the remaining reigning monarchies in the world. The author has done a lot of homework and has produced a highly readable book.Perhaps the closest comparison to Masako's situation would be Princess Diana, but as Hills points out, this is not even close. Diana was able to choose her staff, such as her famously loyal butler(author of "A Royal Duty" that shows his full support of Diana). Masako's staff is free, since they inherit their positions, to undermine her, start whispering campaigns, and plant negative stories in the press. This is not likely to change. Diana chose issues and charities that might have horrified her in-laws, but, as a spouse or former spouse, they could not stop her. Diana, as nature would have it, performed the duty, producing not one but two direct-line male heirs. Masako has none of these advantages. Even seeing her parents is an ordeal.This royal family, stripped of its power and most of its wealth after WWII, is beholden to the political power of the agency that manages them and their household. While the general public might want to see a more popular monarch, the monarchy itself derives its political support from the extreme right wing of Japanese politics, which wants to conserve the traditional ways. The monarchs who live under this yoke receive the respectful bows of the staff, but in reality it is the monarchs who must grovel to the system. Hills never points to this directly, but it is the only conclusion that can be drawn. The power of this agency and the politicians that support it is shown in how this book has been banned in Japan.If you know about and understand Japan's monarchical system, this will not be the book for you. But for the vast majority of English language readers who are interested in Japan there will be lot that is new. I highly recommend this book.

  • May
    2019-02-27 07:39

    Fascinating subject matter but rather boring in its execution. Part of the problem is that the author doesn't get a good handle of Masako's character. I never get the sense of her as a real person in Hill's writing. She is simply portrayed as a highly educated but aloof individual who may or may not have been in love when she married her prince. I say this because the author repeatedly points out how much he was in love with her and made her all of these promises (e.g. shielding her from the media) that he couldn't keep. I probably missed it but I never got the sense of what attracted her to him. I also think what would have helped this book might have been a chapter on the history of the Japanese royal family and how their media and culture portrays them. I thought the most interesting bits were when the author discussed Emperor Akihito's parents, especially his mother, Nagako, who vehemently opposed her son's marriage to a commoner, and the requirements in a potential empress (e.g. she had to be virgin, of pure Japanese blood, etc.). The part about the possible constitutional amendment to allow Princes Aiko to ascend the throne would have been really interesting except by this point, I got too tired and just skimmed it. This is a shame because the subject matter is more interesting than whether or not Kate (or her sister Pippa) are fashion icons.

  • Janis
    2019-03-26 07:36

    This is not a great book by any imagination--and it was full of the author's imagination with little fact to back it up. It's true that no one can get close enough to the Japanese royalty to get any real facts and his guesses seemed reasonable, it still bothered me that the author esteemed his own opinion so highly. A LOT of speculation and conjecture. His writing is erratic and the timelines hard to follow. I did enjoy reading about some of the royalty history and about Masako's youth and life before becoming the princess, but not enough to recommend the book.

  • Mandy Tanksley
    2019-03-24 11:40

    To begin, I must admit that I have spent a great deal of my time soaking up Japanese culture which has little to do with my heritage. I have read countless articles about the subject of Crown Princess Masako and the of the struggle to find the next in line for the throne. That being said, I was looking forward to reading this book. My hope was to gain more insight on the life of Princess Masako and life in the palace. If that is what you're looking for, but have studied enough Japanese history and keep up with current politics of the country, you might be disappointed. I was.The book isn't just about Princess Masako and her life inside the palace and up to that point. The reader learns that Princess Masako has been around the world, moving from place to place as her father's job changes. She has learned multiple languages, been educated in multiple countries, and spent a good deal of time outside her home country. We learn she was career-minded and wanted nothing to do with marriage, especially to the Crown Prince.The author speaks a lot about the Crown Prince as well. We learn a bit about his time away from home to attend college. The Crown Prince seems good natured in the descriptions given and seems to have fallen in love with Princess Masako at first sight. It is here that we find the beginning of the story, which is told in somewhat flowery language I'm more used to in fiction than in non-fiction.The author continuously points out the fact that the kunaicho (Imperial Household Agency) is the cause of much of the problems in Princess Masako's life. In fact, at times, it almost feels as though the book is just as much about them as the Princess herself. The author also never received any real information from the agency as it is closed off to much of the press except for what they want the world to know about the palace life.In fact, the author references people who seem to have said nothing much at all and gives us glimpses of hearsay that he sometimes dismisses as such. A picture is painted of two different Maasako's from These glimpses into her past. Those interviewed from her school and college days all tend to say the same thing: she was a hard worker and they couldn't believe she gave up her career to marry the Crown Prince. The other Masako is treated as being spoilt and given advances in her career she didn't deserve. Many of the latter inferences, the author notes, come from people who may hold a grudge against Masako and have no real founding. As far as other references, I noted that two of the online sources are not something I would've ever, as a student, been permitted to use on a paper and that my college professor would cringe at seeing in the reference list here. (The more notable of the two: Wikipedia - site that can be edited by anyone and is often found to have no factual base or actual references in some of their entries.) I'm not even sure where these references were used since the author made no mention of these sites in his work.Setting that aside, if you don't know much about the imperial family of Japan and are looking for some insight, this book could be for you. It was an okay read for me, but I didn't leant much more than I already knew.

  • Shirleen
    2019-03-14 07:42

    I rate this book 2 stars for content, 3 stars for interest. The book is about Crown Princess Masako, married to Crown Prince Naruhito. Much of the information in this book was acquired second hand and at times has a somewhat loose tabloid feel to it. This is understandable since it’s virtually impossible to obtain info on the secretive life of the Japanese royalty. The thing that bothers me about this book is the author’s blatant prejudice against the life and culture of the Japanese royalty. I do not recall reading one single positive thing. But maybe there really isn’t anything?The book held my interest because it opened my eyes to a subject I had absolutely no knowledge about. I was dismayed to see how Masako, who was beautiful, talented, intelligent, accomplished, a champion soft ball player and avid skier, was stripped of all of her freedom and now lives like a bird trapped (yes trapped!) in a gilded cage. She cannot even see her parents when she wants to, and in fact, the first 3 years of her marriage, she was allowed to see them only 5 times. She has no computer, no telephone, is virtually cut off from the outside world, and has to get permission to go anywhere. She even needs to make an appointment to see her in-laws (Naruhito’s parents). Once, when asked about her main interest, she wrote about finding a bug on a leaf and taking care of it for a year. It’s no wonder she is in depression. Read this book just to see what kind of life not to choose. Real princesses do not have fairy tale lives.

  • Nyonya Buku
    2019-03-17 04:47

    Buku ini saya baca karena penulisnya, Ben Hills, ialah jurnalis investigasi jempolan di Australia. Dia juga yang dianugerahi Perkim Award 2007. Dan kerja kerasnya untuk penulisan Masako betul-betul bikin saya mikir: Buset dah, siyal banget jadi Masako. Buat saya, enggak masuk akal ketika diplomat brilian lulusan tiga universitas canggih itu: Harvard, Oxford, Tokyo Univ akhirnya masuk istana dan kehilangan eksistensinya. -well, birokrasi dan protokeler Istana menempatkan istri putra mahkota sebagai pelengkap- Entah Masako berani, atau ceroboh, ketika akhirnya memilih masuk istana dan mengorbankan karir yang gemilang, keluarga, teman bahkan masa depan. Ben Hills memotret Jepang dengan menarik. Banyak hal baru yang saya dapat dengan membaca buku ini, terutama budaya dan kondisi istana yang membuat saya tercekat tanpa bisa protes. -budayamu budayamu, budayaku budayaku- :D

  • Helen Yee
    2019-03-01 06:38

    And you thought Princess Diana had it bad. Hills cobbles together a picture of both Masako Owada and Prince Naruhito before their courtship and marriage using interviews with as many people as he can get access to - mostly academics and and a handful of childhood acquaintances. The revelation that 74 out of 100 young Japanese women interviewed said they would never entertain the notion of marrying Naruhito or another royal flies in the face of so many Western girls who want to grow up to be a princess (hello media frenzy over Meghan Markle). Without direct access to the royals or close family and friends, this feels more like an over-extended article on the author's theorising. It's still a sad story given that Masako still hasn't emerged in the 12 years since this book was published.

  • Christina
    2019-03-12 06:37

    This story is an excellent justification for abolishing the whole idiotic notion of royalty. The Japanese imperial system took in an intelligent, well-educated, ambitious woman and then crushed her. Masako has had to endure an even more soul-sucking experience than Princess Diana did. She can't even go to lunch with friends until her elderly gatekeepers vet the invitees and set the date. All she has been permitted (and expected) to do is reproduce. It's no surprise that she has been miserable. The book was written by an Australian journalist who is sympathetic without being sycophantic. The writing style is casual but sincere. It's a quick read. As you get deeper into the book, you'll find yourself hoping that Masako some day gathers up the courage to leap for freedom. It probably won't happen.

  • Mary Ellen
    2019-03-11 09:27

    This is a fascinating account of Japanese royalty and the extreme to which one woman and her family were forced to sacrifice to maintain the hereditary line. Unquestioned acceptance and a unbending bureaucracy maintain a costly Japanese tradition. That being said I felt that the author was determined to make such a case and perceived Japan from his own cultural lens too strongly. I sensed, perhaps incorrectly, that a love story may be hidden in Princess Masako's portrayal.

  • Bronwyn C Rideout
    2019-03-02 08:40

    An interesting read but ultimately too polite in its investigation of how the Princess is perceived by longtime staff members of the royal household. I wonder if reading a biography about Masako's brother-in-law may present more insight. I would also be interested in reading any addendum's now that Masako is starting to go out in public more frequently.

  • Jessica Harn
    2019-03-13 08:35

    Originally banned in Japan, this is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the modern Imperial house of Japan

  • MIL
    2019-03-09 03:33

    作者的主觀意識太強烈而且充滿了西方的優越感對日本文化不了解,也沒有想要了解的意思甚至對西方歷史也掌握不佳對皇室禮節都用獵奇的筆法描述猶如帝國主義時代的東方風土誌一般對歷代天皇事跡不管歷史因素,一徑以今非古用西方的當代道德準則,責難百餘年前的天皇作者讓我覺得他不只討厭宮內廳和皇室,還很討厭日本人對歐陸王室也沒有太多好感感覺就是在君主政體底下的共和主義份子我們固知宮內廳因循守舊又對雅子充滿敵意也可以體會皇室繁文縟節的古板僵硬但是作者一定沒有看過萬曆十五年"在我們形式化的政府中,表面即是實質"不能明白在東亞社會中儀式的巨大象徵意義皇室只剩象徵性的權力,更顯得這些儀式的重要性(或者說對"宮內廳"的重要性?!)略過這種因素,這些禮節也只剩怪異難解了既然是描述皇室的書不免一定要跟歐陸王室比較但總是拿作風較自由親民的北歐王室來和日本比較而不用英國王室來比只有在凸顯日本王室的保守時才會說"連"英國王室都不曾如此行事實在居心可議一切以貶低日本皇室為依歸以致書中的歐陸皇室形象忽好忽壞 當然全書也非一無是處作者詳細的列出德仁與雅子婚前的經歷釐清雅子嫁入皇室的前因後果但是還是有一樣的毛病有揚雅子抑德仁的傾向尤其是兩者的求學過程這種傾向特別明顯雅子很聰明,又認真所以成績很好德仁的論文背後有強大的團隊支持諸如此類因為作者對日本/漢字圈文化缺乏理解書中到處都充滿了吐槽點甚至連西洋史也不怎樣以下略舉數例pg46:再來是(結婚)儀式的電腦虛擬影像,因為就連極受信賴的日本貴賓也無法觀禮。其實儀式嚴肅又十分吸引人,我不懂宮內廳不能允許一家謹慎的電視臺進入採訪。因為作者你是西方人啊雖然東方人或許不同意,但多半能懂pg92:德仁的曾曾祖父明治天皇的行為極為放蕩且有仇外心理,不但是日本現代之父,也是十五個孩子的父親。十五個孩子分別由五個不同的女人所生,而且每一個都不是他的妻子。果真是個很了不起的王朝,不是嗎?在我們的印象裡明治要作脫亞入歐的表率結果作者說他"行為極為放蕩且有仇外心理"Orz今日我們固然不能茍同一夫多妻,但是也不用以今非古更何況了不了不起跟他兒子是誰生的有關嗎??如是則古代中國歷朝皇帝該怎麼說??這段除了拿來酸日本王室古怪之外我完全看不出有寫到書裡的必要還有譯者,你是不知道中文有高祖可用嗎...pg98:皇室的學者們將他命名為德仁,意思是[浩瀚的美德]德仁二字怎麼想也想不出浩瀚的意思,作者的翻譯到底是從那來的? 該不會是從浩宮來張冠李戴吧pg103:除了基本的讀、寫、算之外,德仁也接受日本歷史與文化經典著作相關的完整教育尤其是日本最早的文字作品{日本書紀}和{古事紀}。這二本書起源於八世紀,內容交雜著令人困惑的歷史、神話和唯心論。他也有念過{萬葉集}--已有一千二百年歷史的詩集。對天皇起源神話這樣評論,也就沒啥好說的了XD 信仰不容質疑,不然你要天皇說古事紀都是騙人的嗎?pg156:歐洲人定期與外國種族通婚,進而確保歷代家族成員的健壯;日本則不然,皇室成員令人矚目的近親聯姻,或許也解釋了皇室曾出現建康問題的原因,尤其是精神方面的疾病。這種鬼話也寫得出來隨便想想都能設計出以下對白維多利亞女王:聽說歐陸王室都是我的內外兒孫耶哈布斯堡家族:我家的長下巴好建康耶妖僧拉斯普京:原來尼古拉二世的兒子白血病不是近親通婚造成的耶作者的西方史素養若不是太差的話這段根本居心可議為了貶低日本皇室不惜無視歐陸王室一樣有近親通婚的傳統pg191:他(指昭和天皇)的諡號為昭和日本不搞諡號啊...這段不知道英文是怎麼寫的,但看起來就是把年號搞混 pg226:天皇不再是國家領袖,領導責任落到了首相身上,不過實際上,昭和天皇和現在的明仁天皇卻仍然以天皇之名象徵性布召開國會、接待使節、指派最高法院的大法官、頒予獎勵等,日本的權力來源依舊迷樣謎你個大頭樣,這時候又不提歐陸了歐洲君主國的國王上述的事情天天都在做,國家的權力來源謎不謎樣??看到這段讓我覺得作者是故意忽視或曲解西洋史目的還是為了貶低日本皇室談到日本皇室的繼承危機時上溯過去天皇的繼位又顯得作者對嫡庶之分完全沒有概念至於試管嬰兒這種事,當然不可能承認我很懷疑歐陸皇室會大方承認只能說奈何嫁入帝王家其實,雅子妃的悲劇是很具啟發性的題材難以採訪第一手資料只能風聞言事也是情有可緣但是看不到對議題的討論只看到作者的西方優越感一顯無遺反正宮內廳就是爛,只會死抱著化石一般不明所以的奇怪儀式不放卻不去想為什麼日本會有宮內廳這種根本該叫霸凌廳的組織存在我倒是覺得日本天皇一向都是擺好看的吉祥物造成宮內廳除了這點形式上的東西可以堅持也就沒別的事可做了跟歐洲的君主立憲傳統在歷史源流上有根本的不同更何況這種堅持其實很有日本風格職人傳承千百年的技藝,也是出於類似的堅持只是沒有人會去責難職人保守而已所謂的澳洲知名記者極端的主觀意識毀了整本書(真的很想叫他讀完萬曆十五年再來看評價擺好看的天皇)下一本看看出版年代相近的台灣人寫的"美智子與雅子"會不會好點最後,在做吐槽筆記的時候記了一條pg115臚列二十世紀廢除君主政體的國家名單,1918年列作者的母國澳洲本來覺得作者太扯這也敢列,怎麼不敢把加拿大紐西蘭也寫上但是後來查查自治領的法案都不是1918簽的1918年條下,所謂的"澳洲"又與德國並列這不禁讓我想到另一種可能,而且是極大的可能:譯者把奧地利跟澳洲搞混了只要想想一戰終戰是那一年,就顯得這澳洲極有可能是奧地利了繁中版由簡體版重新編輯而來,同段在簡體版中寫作澳大利亞可惜我找不到原文來對但以常理而言,一個澳洲人實在不太可能搞錯自己國家的政體如果連這個都能搞錯還當啥大記者呢??是以應該是翻譯出錯這種低級錯誤從翻譯到編輯都沒看出來也許這本書的翻譯品質也該打上問號Orz

  • Nandina
    2019-03-07 08:32

    If Cinderella happily ever after since married a prince, the opposite happened with Princess Masako, suffering for ever. Reading this book, I could feel the sadness and depression of being wife of Crown Prince, the burden as a wife of Japanese Imperial Palace in the modern era. Masako is intelligent woman, skilled 6 languages, athletic, play some musical instruments, live in many countries since childhood, school at Harvard and then had a brilliant career. With her foreign insight and expertise diplomatic capabilities, Masako surpassed any women of her generation that time and she had been accustomed with modern life, considered equal to men, expressing a personal opinion, be independent. Then suddenly her life changed dramatically since married Crown Prince Naruhito, the pressure coming from Japanese Imperial Palace staff, Princess Masako forced to adjust to a very ancient system. Being a modern woman is a weakness, she must walks 3 steps behind his husbands, ethics rules for everything, even can not speak longer than his husbands, one day Princess Masako been reprimanded because talking 20 second longer than Crown Prince Naruhito in public, and since then she never opened her mouth again. The Empire still tied to the past. Surprisingly how the kingdoms in Europe are more open to the flow of modernity meanwhile Japan Kingdom unable to accept the change from the outside. Pressure not only from the staff the Imperial Palace, also from outside the palace, some critics said Masako Kawahara was incompetence, too much talk, too smart and her marriage was a mistake from the beginning. All of this, cause Princess Masako's mental health decline. Psychological experts say that depression repeated continuously because the cause is not addressed and he advise the Imperial change the rigidity. The court denied the diagnosis and said its only about adjustment disorder. In the last chapter, the author of biographies of Princess Masako, Ben Hills says, there is no happy ending for Princess Masako. Divorce is strictly forbidden in the kingdom and is not an option, Imperial protocol can not be expected to change, because the Palace is unlikely be ready to jump into a modern, so that's it, Masako had to sacrifice himself continued to live in the ancient kingdom for his country .. ..For previously fantasized a Princess is fun, this book will make us broken-hearted....

  • Anne Charlotte LE DIOT
    2019-03-03 08:26

    Difficult to write a book about people when they as primary source of info are so far off limits, and their access is even forbidden... Could Masako ever read it ? I thought Ben Hills did quite a good job, in these circumstances. He interviewed a lot of people who knew the couple before their fate was sealed with this marriage, and even some who are still in touch with them. Under heavy constraints, and one can guess probably not without retaliation in some cases, he enables the reader to picture both characters with enough information to make us envision what this relationship could be like today.A third "character" emerges quite forcefully, the Kunaicho. Probably not an in-depth study of how the Imperial Household Agency works but still a rather intriguing and scary account of its role in mismanaging the peculiar Masako case. The only reason I find to explain this diplomat turned princess turned depressive prisoner sour tale is, as often in Asia, face. No admittance of the fact that even a 2600 year old dynasty has to evolve in its ways and customs. No acknowledgement of the role of women in today's society, even in Japan. Not wanting to even think of how Masako could be useful to the Japanese state and people in using her skills the way other monarchies do with their princesses, usually for the best. Even Bhutan shows a friendlier face of its monarchy, in spite of its poverty. History and culture does not suffice to explain this lame failure.One thing I still do not understand though is how Naruhito managed to impose Masako as his wife, but he still cannot force drastic change into their lives. And Kunaicho to obey his will...

  • Alyn
    2019-03-11 07:29

    the book is was written in a style suited for 'foreigners' who are interested in the last reigning imperial family of Japan. The society of Japan is extremely different: very rigid, conservative, encroaching even on one's personal freedom; so I chose to read this book with a very open mind.the story is centered on Masako Owada, the Princess Di of Japan. She is fluent in 6 languages, lived abroad for almost half her life and studied in prestigious schools like Harvard and Oxford. Out of her great 'sense of duty' she chose to give up a rising diplomatic career (very unusual in Japan)to marry Crown Prince Naruhito, heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Personally, I pity Masako-sama. She has had a fairly good life (based on Japanese standards). She may be a straight-laced young lady, imbued with Japanese values but it's still a far cry from the gloomy existence she has now. It's different from Crown Prince Naruhito who has been groomed and psyched to live the lonely life of an imperial royal all his life.Also felt that it was unfair of Prince Naruhito to make a promise to Masako that he cannot keep. That's just plain selfish!I have nothing against commoners marrying royals, but I think that it is a recipe for disaster. Princess Diana, Princess Masako and Empress Michiko. I think the pressure and curtailment of being 'royal' is not as rosy as others portray it to be.

  • Elaine
    2019-03-26 10:42

    The life of this Janpanese princess makes that of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, sound like a picnic and not torture at all. Masako, a brilliantly educated and studious woman finally agreed to marry the Crown Prince, who loved her for years before she finally relented and accepted his proposal. The palace life of this person who should be the next Empress of Japan has been controlled by those who shape the Japanese royal family and has been so stifling that her falling into deep depression is almost impossible to overcome. The control by the lackeys of the royal family is a centuries' old practice, and Masako has no way to be free, so one would only anticipate nothing but sadness for whatever years she still has to endure, a choice from which she cannot escape. The Australian author explains himself well and does make explanations that an American reader would be able to relate to, but, sometimes, he misquotes or defines something incorrectly such as the famous Boston Brahmin saying about to whom the Cabots and Lodges will only speak; it would have been better if he had not ventured into those areas, but Masako's life had her living most of her earlier years in Europe and the US cities of New York and Boston, so his attempts were understandable, but it surprised me that an editor let them occur.

  • Heidi
    2019-02-26 09:42

    This is a book that I've looked at countless times at airport bookstores, but have never actually bought. (Hurrah for libraries!) I'm glad I've read it, but also (I think) glad I didn't buy it. Some of the other reviews on Good Reads talk about the padding in this book, but I actually found the digressions and background information very interesting. Hills is decidedly not writing for a Japanese audience, and is most decidedly writing for an Australian audience (I don't know if this book has found its way overseas, but there are some very Australian references that I don't think would translate.)I remember when Masako Owada's engagement to the Japanese crown prince was announced. My scrapbooks of the time include a number of articles about her that I collected. And it's been terribly sad to see and hear coverage of Princess Masako's life now. And for that reason, I found the book interesting and even enjoyable.And it was a very quick read. :-)(One interesting comment about typesetting: two "background" chapters were set in a different type. Which made little sense at all, and probably heightened the sense of "padding" mentioned by others.)

  • M.M. Strawberry Reviews
    2019-03-19 06:43

    Many parts of this book read like a tabloid. Yes, Masako doesn't have a very easy life. She had already rejected a marriage proposal from Haruhito, but later on she capitulated, and as such, had to give up the free life she led as a diplomat. It's hard to not feel bad for her when you think about her former lifestyle and the kind of life she leads now, especially with her breakdowns. I do wish that the Diet would change the rules of succession so that primogeniture would be equal, rather than male-based, because it's terrible that she's so stressed over the pressure of bearing an male heir. Even though Japan has advanced well socially and technologically, women are still set back in many parts. A Prince isn't penalized for marrying an commoner, but a Princess loses her rank and status if she does (like Haruhito's sister)As interesting as this book might be for some people, there's not really much that's new in this book. Most of the information here can be freely accessed and found elsewhere, and is presented here with a more biased feel. If you're really interested in this book, you're better borrowing it from a library or a friend, or simply doing your own research online.

  • Marina
    2019-03-07 06:26

    ** Books 157 - 2014 **buku ini terlarang untuk beredar di jepang karena isinya mengungkap kehidupan putri mahkota mahkota dan orang sekitarnya.. buku ini menceritakan kisah perjalanan hidup seorang wanita karir yg cerdas, ambisius, lulusan 3 universitas top (harvard, oxford dan todai) yang merupakan anak diplomat dan sempat bekerja di kementerian luar negeri jepang hingga akhirnya setelah perjalanan panjang memutuskan menikah dengan pangeran Naruhitosangkar dalam emas itulah yg bisa katakan dari kehidupan putri Masako. bayangkan saja dia harus meninggalkan semua kehidupannya ketika menikah dengan pangeran Naruhito. mulai dari diolok2 oleh pers, diatur oleh kepala rumah tangga mulai jadwal, apa yg dimakan dan dikenakan, dituntut memiliki anak laki2, tidak boleh bertemu keluarga, dan hal2 itu sukses membuat putri ini mengidap depresi kronìs berkepanjangan hingga saat ini.. buku ini sebenarnya menarik karena gak cuma menceritakan tentang putri Masako tetapi anggota keluarga Pangeran Naruhito (kaisar hirohito dan empress michiko).. cuma alur yg lambat dan bahasanya yg agak ribet sempat membuat saya bosan membaca buku ini.. saya berikan 3,2 dari 5 bintang!

  • Amanda
    2019-03-25 09:24

    Princess Masako's story is an inherently interesting one. She speaks multiple languages fluently, has lived all around the world, was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and Tokyo Universities, and had an extremely prestigious career before she gave it all up and married Naruhito, the crown prince of Japan. Now she is rarely, if ever, seen, and anything we hear about her seems to suggest that she has become a little more than a prisoner of ancient, patriarchal customs within the palace walls.So how the hell did this book suck on toast? I have far less journalistic training than the author, and I'm pretty sure I could have done a better job telling Masako's story. It isn't the asides or the pointless information or the showy, would-be-poetic writing style that gets me, it's all of those things, plus some unknowable quality that I cannot seem to pin down, combined.I gave it two stars only because, as I said, the story is interesting in and of itself. Too bad it was nearly trampled to death by what I hope was a well-meaning writer who got a little too big for his britches.

  • Amanda
    2019-03-22 04:51

    I skim read most of this book after the first 100 pages. There were several things that I had issues with: > there are a lot of speculations and some of the sources for the facts are questionable - this is understandable due to the secretive nature of the royal family. But I would recommend that you only report what you know rather than speculate. it reads more like a gossip mag than a non fiction book.> the chapters are not chronological - jumping back and forth in no logical order makes it extremely hard to follow and difficult to maintain interest.>the author often goes off on unecessary and unrelated tangents - there are a lot of points that should have been cut as it made me lose interest.> the author takes the longest time to say a simple point - I often lost interest after several pages of waffle.Having said that, there are many interesting pieces of information within the book, you just have to put up with a lot of extra waffle to get to the good bits. I think that there are probably more interesting and better written books on the topic.

  • Kathi
    2019-03-02 09:24

    An interesting look inside the Japanese Royal Palace & the Japanese Crown Princess Masako who married into the family 16 years ago. The Japanese Royals lives are lived very secretively not only from the media, but also from the people of Japan. They don't live lives anything like the ones lived by European royals nor does the media have access to them as they do in Europe. Prior to Masako's marriage she was a very career driven, hard-working diplomat with an under-grad degree from Harvard & a graduate degree from Oxford. Throughout her life, she had lived all over the world. Since she married the Crown Prince, she has been living a life of seclusion behind the Palace walls.How factual the book is, leads me to wonder, due to the lack of access anyone has to the Royal family. But the author, Ben Hills, does seem to have traveled the world investigating leads & tracking down friends & acquaintances of both the Crown Prince & Princess.

  • Kelly
    2019-02-25 07:27

    Not knowing a lot of the royal family in Japan, this book introduced Pricess Masako and her sad daily life. The term sad is loosly used as she lives in a palace with financial stability! However, for a Harvard education international diplomat to become trapped in the confines of a secluded palace without personal choice, freedom, and pressure to produce a male heir it isn't surprising to learn she has suffered in severe depression without any support from her family and public. The book wasn't too heavy with historical details and had a nice pace leaving me empethetic for the pricess and wondering how her life will turn out behind the locked gates. My complaint is that it was light on facts or citiations so I didn't walk away thinking this was a factual depiction but more of a guessing game.

  • Maju
    2019-03-12 07:29

    When Princess Masako finally decided to accept Prince Hironomiya's proposal back in early 90's, we (I mean, all of my feminist friends and I) were in shock. She was a successful, beautiful, intelligent Japanese woman who was on her career track to make significant contributions to the Japanese society. I was devastated to think that this bright woman getting ruined and destroyed by the old-school-to-the-core Royal Family and the sorrounding system. While hoping that she would be the strong new force to change the existing systems that need major "updating" from within, we knew in our heart that she would be powerless once inside. This book confirmed my biggest fear came true. Her talent was wasted, and her existence, totally ruined.The book itself was okay. It is well written in a sence that any non-native-Japanese person can read and understand what he is trying to capture.

  • Michelle
    2019-02-23 06:46

    So I finally read the nonfiction account of Japan's royal family, as I've been meaning to for years. The only thing saving this book (and the fictional book I've read about the royal family) is that royalty is interesting. And that's it. The writing is meh. The research done is meh. I don't blame Ben Hills exactly for that, as the family and the entire institution built around them is very hush-hush. But can somebody please blow the lid off of everything? Or can somebody (one of those royal watchers that follow around the crown princess) write a fictional book based on all of their knowledge and half-truth and assumptions? Because I need something way more interesting than this :(I will now go find a book about Diana or somebody else.

  • Young
    2019-03-23 07:39

    This is the auto-biography of Japan's current Princess. It is a sad story of women's place in Japanese culture. I learned a great deal about women's roles in Japan and I find the bi-polar personality of this country and culture to be fascinating. On the one hand, there is so much to admire in Japanese culture...the strive for perfection, the progressiveness in technology and at the same time the close maintenance of ancient traditions. On the other hand, this country has not moved out of the ancient old century. Though the author did a good job of depicting this bi-polar personality, I did not like his judgmental tone. There were many subtle criticisms of the culture and that tone got annoying after a while.

  • Kiersten
    2019-03-22 09:49

    I picked this up from the library for a school report (it looked to be the most interesting of my limited choices). I don't read biographies often. That said, i found it completely gripping. It was every bit as tragic as the cover claimed, and it's painful to know that this isn't a bygone fairytale-gone-awry, either - the people, namely Masako, inside are still living and the story continues in full swing. It's the real world. the reader can't simply feel sorry and then move on as if it were a fictional or finished account.I found this very informative and insightful (if a little repetitive in terms of writing style). A tragic, compelling story - not a book i would personally buy, but one I would consider worth reading.

  • Bev
    2019-03-06 10:40

    Enlightening book – I wasn’t sure about the validity of this book until I discussed it with my Japanese neighbor. She felt that the information was well researched. The book explains why Princess Masako, an intelligent, well educated women, is suffering from clinical depression after marrying the Japanese Prince. It was surprising to hear how many young women would not want to marry a Son of the Emperor, because of the confines involved with being a part of the Royal Family. There are stringent qualifications, so most Japanese women would not even be considered. There is only one male baby in line for the throne, so as traditional Japan collides with contemporary Japan it seems like the problem can only get worse.

  • Hectaizani
    2019-03-01 10:40

    Such a sad story. Every little girl wants to be a princess, and sometimes wishes come true and then you wish they hadn't. According to this biography, Masako Oweda gave up everything to marry the Crown Prince of Japan and now lives her life in a gilded cage. She can't go out shopping, or travel or do much of anything by herself, and the stress of that has caused her to sink into a deep depression. Unfortunately, depression is a taboo thing in Japan so acknowledging her disease and getting her the proper treatment is proving to be difficult.Sadly the biographer was unable to speak to Masako herself, so much of this story is conjecture, hearsay and he said/she said. As the royal family's lives are kept so very secret, it's hard to know what is and isn't the truth.