JAPAN: The Prince Takes a Bride

The night before, she was still plain Miss Shoda, but from the moment her mother called her at 5 the next morning, she was already "Your Highness." "Take care of yourself," said a relative who had come to see her off, "when you go over there." A little after 6 a.m.. her eyes blinking back the tears, Michiko Shoda, 24, bowed stiffly to her parents, entered the antique maroon Mercedes-Benz sent by the palace, and was off to begin her life "over there" as the first commoner in 2,600 years to wed a future Emperor of Japan.

For nearly three...

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