Looking Beyond the Mask

When American Women Marry Japanese Men

By Nancy Brown Diggs

Subjects: Women's Studies
Paperback : 9780791450703, 239 pages, August 2001
Hardcover : 9780791450697, 239 pages, August 2001

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Table of contents



Part I. Beginnings

1. Love Stories

2. In-Laws

Part II. Culture Shock

3. Customs and Manners

4. Values

5. Living Conditions

6. Medical Matters

7. Religion

8. Communication

9. Sex and Gender

Part III. Children

10. Mother's Role

11. Being Different

Part IV. Meeting the Challenge

12. What It Takes

13. Can We Go Home Again?

14. The Gains

15. Looking Ahead





Interviews with women in cross-cultural marriages, offering a unique insight into Japanese life.


Looking Beyond the Mask focuses on the personal stories of the growing number of American women who—despite vast cultural differences, and sometimes because of them—are married to Japanese men. Although the problems encountered in such marriages are similar to those found in any union, there are cultural implications that can exacerbate almost any of them. Potential areas of conflict are examined, such as in-laws, customs and manners, values, living conditions, religion, communication, sex and gender, and raising children. The book deals with meeting such challenges and attempting to look beyond the cultural masks to see the real people behind them. The women in question stress the importance of commitment, a flexible attitude, a strong sense of identity, a support network, a sense of perspective, and a sense of humor. They also reveal the benefits of these marriages, including a greater appreciation for Japanese ways and the opportunity to continually grow and learn. Based on extensive research, the book provides a new look at Japan from the unique perspective of those American women most intimately involved with its culture.

Nancy Brown Diggs is the author of Steel Butterflies: Japanese Women and the American Experience, also published by SUNY Press.


"I know of no other books on this topic. That in itself makes it worthwhile, but it is important beyond its uniqueness. There are increasing numbers of intercultural marriages, and many of the topics and examples discussed in this book are applicable to other marriages. In addition to the importance of the topic for those studying marriage and interracial/intercultural relations, Diggs adds to our knowledge about Japanese culture by delving into areas of similarity and difference in the most intimate of relationships." — Jeanne Ballantine, author of The Sociology of Education: A Systematic Analysis