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Her early life was spent travelling as a result of her father's job. She attended kindergarten in Moscow, high school in Boston, and university at Harvard, graduating in 1985 with a degree in economics.
She then entered the faculty of law at Tokyo University - the training ground for the cream of Japanese bureaucrats.
Fluent in several languages, she entered the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1987, spending some time at Balliol College in Oxford for further studies.
But since her marriage, the restrictions imposed by the Imperial Household have meant the former jet-setting Princess Masako has only travelled a handful of times.
It has been assumed that conservatives in the Imperial Household have wanted her close to home so she could concentrate her energies on conceiving.
In the stultifying atmosphere of Tokyo's Togu Palace, even phone calls to her parents are rumoured to first need approval by a vast entourage of court officials.
Japan's Crown Princess Masako smiles as she waves to well-wishers from the bullet-proof glass-covered balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 23, 2005.
The princess now only makes limited appearances in public
This clash between her cosmopolitan background and the conservative atmosphere at the Imperial Household became evident quite quickly.
After just over three years of marriage, Princess Masako was admitting: "At times I experience hardship in trying to find the proper point of balance between traditional things and my own personality".
It took five years for the princess to conceive, and just as a media frenzy erupted following rumours she was pregnant, the Imperial Agency grimly announced a miscarriage.
Following fertility treatment, she finally gave birth to a girl, Aiko, four years ago.
But that was not enough for the imperial courtiers. A boy is required to inherit the throne. The Imperial Agency's chief, Toshio Yuasa, publicly called on the couple to have a second child.
It appears that Princess Masako may not be able to draw solace from the imperial family, either.
She is rumoured to have a poor relationship with her in-laws, despite the fact she shares a similar background with Empress Michiko.
The empress, too, is a commoner, and is reported to have suffered a similar bout of depression in the 1960s.
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1. You’ve lived and learned
No one said life was easy and while the bumps on the road may hurt, the ride is definitely worth it. Think back to your failures and defeats. You must know they were all for a reason and part of a grander plan. Each difficulty has led you to where you are at today, each trial has molded you into the magnificent, resilient, person that you are. Continue to move forward in faith, hope and love, knowing that each experience has taught you what you need to become who you were born to be.
2. You have a comfy bed to sleep in
I’ll never forget an interview done on NPR a while back. A young Haitian mother told her story. She had little ones that constantly wondered when they would be able to eat and go to school like all the other kids around them. What impacted me the most about this story was their sleeping arrangements: they all laid on the dirt floor, and at night if it rained everyone would have to get up, grab whatever was left of their “bed” and move to a dry spot. This story gave me a whole new appreciation for my bed and I hope it does the same thing for you!
3. You strive to be better
The fact you are feeling a bit down because you haven’t achieved what you want to achieve shows you are trying. In the grand scheme of things, you always strive to be better and for as long as you continue to do that, happiness, success and love will come – just don’t give up. Einstein once said: “It’s not that I am so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.” Hang in there and never stop striving to be all you can be!
4. You have/had a job
Whichever way you look at this one, it is still a win-win situation for you. If you have a job: kudos! Keep at it and know that you are richly blessed. If you recently lost your job, don’t fret! You’ve gotten a job before, you can get one all over again. Perhaps this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to do something you truly love to do. Keep searching, keep hoping, and know that you can accomplish the seemingly impossible if you work hard and believe you can.
5. Knowledge is at your fingertips
In this day and age, you can learn anything and everything you want. Knowledge is truly at your fingertips! Since knowledge is power, seize that power and let it assist you in the pursuit of your dreams. Take advantage of all the “learning” opportunities that come your way.
6. You have food to eat
Sometimes a bit more than you should! Food is such an overlooked blessing, yet if you miss it for a few hours you start feeling the necessity of it. Take the time to enjoy your next meal, whatever that is, savor each bite and remind yourself that happiness is found in enjoying the simple things of life, such as eating a piece of pie.
7. You have the power of choose
Aristotle once said: “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” Need I say more? Claim your power to choose.
8. You’ve experienced love butterflies or something like it
Ahh! To be in love…to feel your whole body literally react to that moment when you simply steal a glance from the one you are infatuated with. Experiencing such a natural, basic and simple, yet passionate moment will give you memories that will last a life time. You are beyond blessed to have experienced such a sublime moment!
9. You have clean water
This one should not be overlooked. Do you ever watch Bear Grills and all his desperate moves to get just a few ounces of muddy water? There are also people who aren’t going without water because they have a survival show, but instead because it is their harsh reality. Around 783 million people do not have access to clean water around the globe. Be thankful and fully aware that you are doing well in life even if you don’t think so.
10. You have a dream
Whatever your dream is, it’s yours. You have the ability to embrace it and create it. Don’t give up on dreaming or on your dreams. They are what life’s best things are made up of.
11. Your happiness is real
You have the power to choose happiness for your life in everything you do and in every circumstance. Your happiness is defined by whether or not you are able to discern and seize an opportunity to feel happy. It may be something as simple as enjoying the laughter of a child.
12. You have clothes to wear
And sometimes too many options, which trumps your productivity, but that is another subject. The bottom line is, you don’t have to go naked through the streets or poorly dressed. You enjoy the blessing of being properly dressed for every occasion and have the ability to shield your body from the elements. Really, life would get very cold without clothes.
13. You have the ability to forgive
Can you imagine what this world would look like without forgiveness? Never mind the world, just your life! Imagine how bogged down, bitter and unhappy you would be if you did not have the ability to forgive other’s mistakes as well as your own. It would make it nearly impossible to live and most definitely a nightmare to move on with life when difficulties arose. You have the unique gift of forgiving and moving on.
14. You believe in something greater than yourself
For all the times you were so caught up in your own little world and drowning in a kiddie pool version of life’s problems, you’ve had the ability to step back and realize that you have something greater to live for than yourself. Whether it is God, your family or friends, you can believe that your purpose is to achieve something that will be for the greater good or to simply bring honor to your God.
15. You have the opportunity to build global friendships
In today’s day and age, your best friend can literally be five thousand miles away yet you can still experience the beauty of that friendship. You have the unique capacity to be acquaintances with one person in almost every country of the world, something no other generation before the 1900’s was easily able to do. As far as I am concerned, your global ability to make friends is definitely a sign you are doing well in life, even if you don’t think so.