JAPAN: The Girl from Outside

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Demure, with downcast eyes, displaying a modesty beneath which lies tempered steel, 24-year-old Michiko Shoda last week crossed the blue moat surrounding the Imperial Palace. Behind her lay the roaring, garish city of Tokyo, with huge advertising balloons adrift above the rooftops. Ahead stretched the quiet greenery of the palace grounds, where unpaid volunteers tended the gardens. As her chauffeur-driven car passed through the tall gateway, guarded by policemen with gold chrysanthemums on their collars, Michiko was carried into the secluded "world within the moat" that will be hers next month on her marriage to Crown Prince Akihito, 25....