The Face of Another

The Face of Another (他人の顔, Tanin no kao) is a 1964 novel written by the Japanese novelist Kōbō Abe. Like other stories written by this author, the novel explored the alienation of modern man from urban society.[1] In 1966, it was adapted into a film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara.


An industrial accident burned the face of Mr. Okuyama, a plastics scientist. His wife is repulsed by his disfigurement and refuses to have sexual contact with him.[2] In an effort to regain the affection of his wife, he agreed to the suggestion of his doctor to wear a prosthetic mask.[1] With a new 'face', the protagonist sees the world in a new way and started to have a clandestine affair with his estranged wife. Although, the new face gives the man 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.[2]

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.


  1. ^ a b Hoover, William (2019). Historical Dictionary of Postwar Japan, 2nd edition. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 11. ISBN 9781538111550.
  2. ^ a b Rush, Zachariah (2014). Beyond the Screenplay: A Dialectical Approach to Dramaturgy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 59. ISBN 9780786466030.