Japan's Mystery of Majesty

Late on the afternoon of Aug. 16, an Imperial motorcade departed from Prince Akishino's royal residence in Tokyo and headed for Aiiku Hospital. The main car carried Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko, elegantly attired in a checkered gray suit. As the unhurried motorcade reached the hospital in central Tokyo, where a throng of reporters and onlookers had gathered, Kiko opened the window and offered the crowd what the Japanese media have dubbed her "princess smile": an enigmatic expression that suggests she knows she's fulfilling her royal destiny. Kiko had come to the hospital to prepare for the arrival of her...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!