Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan

By Lieba Faier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Runaway Stories

“It’s lonely, isn’t it?” Sharyn remarked. It was a grey afternoon, and we were sitting in the living room of her family’s large, empty house. Located a ways up Route 19, the multiple-level structure sat beside the highway, looking out across the railroad tracks and the smattering of homes, trees, and fields that filled the cross section of the narrow valley below it.

Like most Filipina women married to Japanese men in the region, Sharyn had met her husband while working as an entertainer at a local hostess bar. She told me that she had been happy being a homemaker and was trying hard to be a good oyomesan, until she learned that her husband was having an affair with another Filipina woman working at a nearby club. Since discovering her husband’s infidelity, Sharyn had grown increasingly distraught. Several other Filipina women we knew were concerned that she was close to a nervous breakdown. Worried about Sharyn’s depression, these women had encouraged me to keep her company during the day when her husband and mother-in-law went to work. So, Sharyn and I were sitting on her living room couch. We were talking about her marriage as we kept an eye on her four-year-old son, Takefumi.

Sharyn explained that since she had confronted her husband about his affair their fights had become regular and mean-spirited. He had taken to calling her fat and unattractive, and he frequently accused her of marrying him for his money. His mother, with whom they lived during my fieldwork, seemed to think that Sharyn should overlook her son’s infidelity:

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