Kichizo Ishida (1894 – 1936) was a Japanese businessman and restaurateur with a reputation for being a ladies’ man. Starting off as an apprentice in a restaurant that specialized in eel dishes, at age 24 he opened what would become a highly successful restaurant, the Yoshidaya, in the Nakano neighborhood of Tokyo. By 1936, he seems to have left the management of his other business affairs to his wife, and dedicated himself to womanizing. Early in 1936, he began a torrid love affair with a recently hired employee, Sada Abe, that ended badly.
Sada Abe (1905 – 1971) had been Geisha and former prostitute before she started working as an apprentice at Ishida’s restaurant. It did not take long after she started work before her boss made advances, which she eagerly welcomed. The duo became infatuated with each other, spending days engaged in marathon sex sessions at hotels, not pausing even when maids came in to clean the rooms.
Sada’s infatuation, however, grew into obsession. She started getting jealous whenever Ishida returned to his wife and began toying with the idea of murdering him as a means of keeping him forever to herself. She bought a knife and threatened him with it during their next marathon sex session, but Ishida assumed it was role play and was turned on rather than concerned, which threw Sada off.
Later during the marathon session, she again steeled herself to kill him, this time attempting to strangle him with a Geisha belt during sex, but that only turned him on even more, and he begged her to continue, which again threw her off.
Finally, Ishida fell asleep, at which point Sada, gathering her nerve one more time, went ahead and strangled her sleeping lover to death with a Geisha scarf. Then she took out the knife and castrated him, carved her name on his arm, and with his blood wrote “Sada and Kichizo together” on the bedsheets before fleeing. Ishida’s body was discovered the next day, and when news of the murder and mutilation broke, and that a “sexually and criminally dangerous woman was on the loose“, Japan was gripped with what became known as “Sada Abe panic”.
Police eventually caught up with and arrested her, at which point they discovered Kichizo Ishida’s genitals in her purse. When questioned why she was running around with Ishida’s penis and testicles, Sada replied “Because I couldn’t take his head or body with me. I wanted to take the part of him that brought back to me the most vivid memories”
Sada Abe was tried and convicted and served 5 years in prison before being released. She went on to write an autobiography and lived until 1971. The Ishida-Abe love affair and its painfully weird conclusion became a sensation in Japan, embedded in its popular culture and acquiring mythic overtones ever since. The story and variations thereof have been depicted in poetry and prose, both fiction and nonfiction, portrayed in movies and television series, and interpreted over the decades by various philosophers and artists.