JAPAN: The Empress's Girdle

Harsh realists when it comes to dealing with China and the rest of the world, the Japanese have retained all their ancient mysticism as far as the Emperor and his family are concerned. Last week the owl-eyed Son of Heaven himself watched an oft-repeated ceremony in the Imperial household, the donning of the sacred maternity girdle to mark the ninth month of the Empress' pregnancy.

Chief of the Imperial General Staff Prince Kotohito Kanin, who had been designated "Honorable Girdle Parent" (equivalent of godfather), presented the girdle, a silk belt twelve feet long. Surrounded by the Empress and her court ladies,...

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