Posted by: iamkyoko | December 1, 2011

“Caught Between Two Cultures”

         Have you ever felt as if you were a foreigner in your own country? Kyoko Mori did. She didn’t like her home country. She didn’t sit there and whine about it though, she was smart enough to crack her shell and explore the unknown to find her own world. She now lives as a proud Japanese-American in the United States. Polite Lies is her story of her true feelings towards Japan, where she was born and raised.

Kyoko Mori is a Japanese American woman has spent half of her life in Japan, and the other half in America. Polite Lies is a book she wrote about her views towards Japan. Her realistic explanations of polite lies we call respect or culture would catch anyone’s heart. She herself feels caught between two cultures, like many of the students here at our school. Most of us are returnees from different countries around the world. I’m sure almost all of us have found ourselves experiencing some sort of culture shock at some point in our lives. Reading this book really cleared some of the clouds in my head.

Kyoko spent the first 20 years of her life in Japan, struggling through her childhood. She never had the best relationship with her family. She never felt completely at home, growing up in her own country. The next 20 years of her life in America. She found herself there, and she now works as a creative writing professor.

I read this book to read about another person’s experience of getting over their culture shock. Amazingly, this book gave me more. This book is beautifully written by someone who chose her words carefully to match every situation. It isn’t a book full of random guesses by someone who thinks they know about two cultures. Its raw content shows how a person like me has once seen Japan. Her bravery gave me courage.

When you finish this book, you will see this country through different eyes. I encourage everyone to read this rare book. I especially want returnee students to give these pages a chance, so that maybe they will figure themselves out. Kyoko Mori won’t let you down.



  1. I am so glad that someone reviewed this book because it is one of my favorite collections of essays, and I think it could be able to offer comfort to some of our students at times….

    The essays are all independent, so you don’t have to read the book cover to cover. Just pick one from the table of contents!

    There are several copies in the C.C., so check one out today!
    (BTW, thanks for that REALLY CLEAR display name, Kyoko! I need things to be VERY OBVIOUS these days!!)

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