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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AKIHITO!

Japan’s Emperor celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday today.
Every Japanese I asked said they would not give one thought to their monarch on this national holiday – more than a few didn’t even know they had the day off in his honor! So does that mean the Japanese public is in favor of turning the Royal Palace into a theme park? No way! In fact, unlike the irreverent Brits, there is virtually no republican movement here demanding the royals be thrown out.
My take on this typically Japanese contradiction was “wallpaper”.

Consider this conversation with Taro.

“So, Taro, you mean to say you never give a second thought to the emperor, and yet you like having an emperor?”

“Yes, of course.”

“So, he’s kind of like wallpaper, isn’t he?

“What the heck are you talking about?”

“Did you spend much to wallpaper your home?”

“Yes, quite a bit.”

“Do you sit around gazing at the subtle prints of textured Japanese fans?”

“No, except maybe on the morning after a year-end party.”

“Would you ever consider stripping the walls of their extravagant covering?”

“Never. I can’t imagine life without it.”

“Well, it sure sounds to me like your feelings for the emperor are about the same as your feelings about the wallpaper in your house.”

Conversations like this give me reason to believe that as long as Japanese homes have wallpaper, Japan will have an emperor.

I myself am quite a royal fan – since his birthday makes December 23rd, our wedding anniversary, a national holiday.

Long live the Emperor!

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