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The Face of Another

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Wikipedia article

is a 1964 novel written by the Japanese novelist Kb Abe. Like other stories written by this author, the novel explores the alienation of modern man from urban society. It is written in the first person narrative mode, and is divided into a prologue, three "notebooks" (black, gray, and white), and a concluding letter from the protagonist's wife. In 1966, it was adapted into a film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara.


An industrial accident has severely burned the face of Mr. Okuyama, a plastics scientist. His wife is repulsed by his disfigurement and refuses to have sexual contact with him. In an effort to regain the affection of his wife, he attempts to create a prosthetic mask in a rented apartment. With this new "face," the protagonist sees the world in a new way and begins a clandestine affair with his estranged wife. Although the mask gives Okuyama newfound freedom, at the end of the story, it becomes difficult to determine if the mask has taken ownership of the man or the man has taken ownership of the face.

There is also a subplot following a 'hibakusha' woman who has suffered burns to the right side of her face. In the novel, the protagonist sees this character in a film; in the film version, this is deliberately obscured.

See also

* 'La Belle Image' by Marcel Aym, a novel with a similar premise


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