JAPAN: Short Sword, Purple Skirt

Even childbirth is clocked with rigid precision at the Japanese Court, the most meticulous and totally devoid of humor in the world.

One morning last week at 9:50 a.m. exactly Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Nagako was clocked into the temporary structure erected for such occasions, the Imperial Maternity Villa.

Tick-tick-tick 132 minutes passed. Precisely at two minutes past high noon Her Imperial Majesty was delivered of an infant 49 centimetres (1.6 ft.) long and weighing 3,365 grams (7.4 lb.). The municipal siren of Tokyo screeched, the National Radiocasting System went into action,...

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