In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt shocked the world when she cut off her husband John’s penis and threw it out of her car window as she drove away from the scene. But she wasn’t the first woman to do this grisly deed.
Tokyo, 1936. Sada Abe, age 31, a former geisha/prostitute, went to work as a waitress in a restaurant operated by Kichizo Ishida, age 42, a married man and incorrigible philanderer. Kichizo put the moves on Sada while she served dishes of eel, the restaurant’s specialty. She developed an obsessive romantic passion and insatiable sexual desire for him. Sada and Kichizo pledged eternal love and enjoyed marathon sex orgies at the local love hotel. The couple began experimenting with erotic strangulation. Sada would wrap her obi around Kichizo’s neck and tighten it, giving him an impressive erection and enhancing their sexual pleasure. But one day things went too far.
On the morning of May 18, Sada left the hotel after telling the proprietor that Kichizo was asleep and shouldn’t be disturbed. Later that day, the maid found Kichizo dead in the room, strangled to death, with his genitals cut off. On his thigh, written in his blood, were the words, “Sada and Kichi, inseparable forever.”
The crime caused a huge, scandalous sensation. It became front-page news. Police mounted a search for Sada. After two days an officer ran across her at an inn where she’d taken a room. She readily told him who she was. At first he thought she was joking. Then she reached into her bodice and pulled out the proof: Kichizo’s penis, wrapped in brown paper.
When asked why she killed Kichizo, she said, “I loved him so much, I wanted him all to myself...if I killed him no other woman could ever touch him again...”
When asked how she could bear to walk around Tokyo carrying his severed penis, she said, “It belonged to someone I loved.”
Sada was convicted of second degree murder and mutilation of a corpse and sentenced to prison. She was discharged on May 17, 1941, five years after she killed and dismembered her beloved.
Her story was the inspiration for the famous erotic film, In the Realm of the Senses (1976), by Nagisa Oshima.
To learn more about Sada, read The Dark Side, Infamous Japanese Crimes and Criminals by Mark Shreiber (Kodansha International, 2001), my source of information for this story.
Laura Joh Rowland is the best-selling author of the mystery series set in 17th century Japan that features samurai detective Sano Ichiro. Her sixteenth and latest book in the series is The Incense Game (September 2012).