Sada Abe was the seventh children of Shigeyoshi and Katsu Abe, and although not with a questionable behavior like her brothers, she had her fair share of adventures through life. As she grew up, being one of the youngest children, Sada was allowed by her mother to do whatever she wanted. She took singing and shamisen lessons, possibly because she and her mother longed for a life of geisha. Despite having a good life, she soon became a difficult adolescent and after an incident where she was raped, her behavior became unbearable for her parents who sold her to a Geisha house. Some say it was her father punishing her for her promiscuous behavior, others believe that she wanted to become a geisha herself because of the fame and financial benefit that life had.
Becoming a prostitute
To become a good geisha and a well-known person in that community, one must serve as an apprentice since childhood, but also study and train hard. Abe didn’t train and had no experience in that direction so she soon ended up becoming a low-rank geisha, which usually meant that she had to provide sex for clients and take care of the high rank geishas. She contacted syphilis and decided that she would work as a legally licensed prostitute since the received regular physical examinations and it was better for her safety in the long term.
She began working as a prostitute in Tobita brothel district in Osaka, but her bad behavior seemed to be following her; she got into trouble for stealing money from clients, having fights with various people and attempting to leave the brothel several times. She managed to escape prostitution after only two years and began working as a waitress; however, the wage was not satisfying so she came back to work as a prostitute, this time, an unlicensed prostitute. After a raid in 1934, she was arrested but soon became the mistress of Kinnosuke Kasahara, who arranged a house for her and gave her an income. When he refused to leave his wife for her and also refused her to take another lover, she broke up with him and left for Nagoya where she began working as a maid at a restaurant.
In Nagoya, she met Goro Omiya, who decided he would help her become financially independent. He suggested that she should start working as an apprentice and open a small restaurant, which she started doing in February, 1936. The owner of the restaurant where she worked as an apprentice was Kichizo Ishida, the man who was to become the love of her life.
Ishida was known to be a womanizer, despite being married. The restaurant was actually managed by his wife, while he engaged in multiple affairs with women. When seeing him for the first time Sada declared that she never met such a sexy man and soon he started letting her know that he was attracted to her. Even if they were both in committed relationship, Sada with Omiya and Ishida married, that didn’t stop them having a pre-arranged sexual encounter. It started in mid-April when Ishida and Abe initiated their sexual relationship while listening to a romantic ballad sung by one of the geishas there. It has been known that their first sexual encounter lasted for four days, until they moved to another teahouse where they continued to drink and have sex.
Ishida returned to the restaurant in the morning of May 8th, after 2 weeks that counted as a “date” with Sada Abe. It seems that after this encounter she became agitated and couldn’t bear the thought of him with another woman. She also attended a play where a geisha was attacking her lover with a knife, which probably fueled her imagination as she threatened him later with a knife. She later described the scene: "I pulled the kitchen knife out of my bag and threatened him as had been done in the play I had seen, saying, 'Kichi, you wore that kimono just to please one of your favorite customers. You bastard, I'll kill you for that.' Ishida was startled and drew away a little, but he seemed delighted with it all..."
During their lovemaking sessions, she often threatened him to cut off his penis if he was going to play with another woman. They soon started practicing mutual erotic asphyxiation but she did it to him multiple times as he considered that it increased his pleasure. On 16th of May she used her obi sash to strangle him during orgasm and he enjoyed it. This continued for two hours more and pain started appearing, for which he took about 30 tablets of Calmotin. As he started to doze, she declared that he told her to put the cord around his neck and continue squeezing while he’s asleep and don’t stop because it was painful afterwards. At first she asked herself whether he wanted her to kill him, considering the amount of pills he had taken and this unusual request. However, she wanted to make her lover happy so at 2 a.m. when he was asleep, she wrapped her obi sash around his neck and kept on doing it until he died. She declared to the police later that after doing that she felt totally at ease, like a heavy burden had been lifted from her shoulders and she gained clarity.
After staying next to his body for hours she decided she wanted a piece of him with her; she severed his penis with a kitchen knife, wrapped it ina magazine cover and wrote with blood on his thigh Sada, Kichi Futari-kiri ("Sada, Kichi together"). She also carved 定 ("Sada", the character for her name) into his left arm. She left the inn and told the staff not to disturb her lover and was arrested three days later.
While having her lover’s penis on her she went shopping, saw a movie and stayed at an in in Shinagawa considering that she would later commit suicide. She also practiced necrophilia as she would later declare to the police: I felt attached to Ishida's penis and thought that only after taking leave from it quietly could I then die. I unwrapped the paper holding them and gazed at his penis and scrotum. I put his penis in my mouth and even tried to insert it inside me... It didn't work however though I kept trying and trying. Then, I decided that I would flee to Osaka, staying with Ishida's penis all the while. In the end, I would jump from a cliff on Mount Ikoma while holding on to his penis."
When the police arrested her and asked her why she killed her lover she declared: "I loved him so much, I wanted him all to myself. But since we were not husband and wife, as long as he lived he could be embraced by other women. I knew that if I killed him no other woman could ever touch him again, so I killed him...”
On December 21, 1936 Abe was convicted of murder in the second degree and mutilation of a corpse. Though the prosecution demanded ten years, and Abe claimed that she desired the death penalty, she was in fact sentenced to just six years in prison.
There were several other cases in Japan and throughout Asia, but the Sada Abe incident was considered to be special. William Johnston suggests that "She had killed not out of jealousy but out of love.” making her story one of the most interesting love stories.