Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey
Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey

Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey

Khalid Elhassan - September 30, 2021

Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey
Still from a movie about Sada Abe. Ozy

2. A Lover Who Mistook Attempted Murder For Attempts to Spice Up the Romance

Sada Abe began to get jealous whenever her lover Kichizo Ishida returned to his wife, and she began to toy with the idea of murder as a means to keep him forever to herself. She bought a knife and threatened him with it during their next marathon session, but Ishida assumed it was role play to spice up the romance and was turned on rather than concerned. That threw Sada off. Later during the marathon session, she again steeled herself to kill him, this time via strangulation with a Geisha belt during love making.

Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey
The love motel where Kichizo Ishida met his end. Wikimedia

That only turned her lover on even more, and he begged her to continue, which again threw her off. Finally, Kichizo fell asleep, at which point Sada, gathered her nerve one more time to do the deed, and she 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 bed sheets before she fled.

Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey
Contemporary Japanese newspaper article with a photo of Sada Abe and Kichizo Ishida. Christian Phelps

1. The Horrific End of This Romance Threw a Country Into a Panic

The corpse of Kichizo Ishida was discovered the next day. When news of the gruesome 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 had Kichizo’s appendages her purse, 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”.

Romance Through the Ages, Ranked from Sweet to Cringey
Sada Abe in police custody. Pinterest

She was tried and convicted and served five years in prison before she was released. She went on to write an autobiography and lived until 1971. The Sada-Kichizo romance 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 has 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.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

All That is Interesting – Andrew Robinson Stoney May Have Been England’s Worst Husband, Ever

AV Club – Wikipedia Erected a Page to Explain Ancient Rome’s Fascination With the Phallus

Cassius Dio – Roman History, Books 79-80

Collectors Weekly – Love Boats: The Delightfully Sinful History of Canoes

Cracked – 5 Ways Love and Dating in the Past Were Weird

Encyclopedia Britannica – Aleksander Pushkin

Encyclopedia Britannica – Petrarch

Encyclopedia Dot Com – Albert Tirrell Trial: 1846

Fuess, Claude Moore – Rufus Choate, the Wizard of the Law (1970)

Goldsworthy, Adrian – How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower (2009)

Hertfordshire Life – The Dramatic Life and Passing of Prime Minister Lord Palmerston

Historia Augusta – The Life of Elagabalus

History Collection – Interesting Love Stories That Helped Shape the Modern World

Medium – Felix Faure, the French President Who Died Getting a Blow Job

Messy Nessy Chic – When the Phallus Was Fashion

Moore, Wendy – Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match (2009)

Murderpedia – Sada Abe

National Geographic – Saucy ‘Escort Cards’ Were a Way to Flirt in the Victorian Era

National Post, April 18th, 2017 – ‘I Want to Harm You, Be Brutal With You’: How Mussolini’s Last Love, Fueled by Se* and Power, Shaped Him

National Public Radio – When Flirtation Cards Were All the Rage

Northern Echo, November 24th, 2017 – Andrew Robinson Stoney, the Man Who Locked His Wife in a Cupboard Until She Was Dead

Smithsonian Magazine, April 30th, 2012 – The Case of the Sleepwalking Killer

Spiegel, November 26th, 2009 – In Bed With Benito: S*x Diaries Reveal Mussolini’s Soft Side

Star Tribune, August 1st, 2013 – Canoe Craze Marked by Romance, Ribaldry

Wikipedia – Albert Tirrell

Wikipedia – Felix Faure

Wikipedia – Sada Abe