So Bad She’s Good: The Masochist’s Heroine in Postwar Japan, Abe Sada

  • Christine Marran


The week of the murder of Yoshida Kichizō by his lover Abe Sada was one filled with passion. The two had been meeting secretly for months behind the back of Kichizō’s wife who was also Sada’s boss. This time the lovers snuck off to the Masaki Inn on May 11, 1936. Sada remembered in testimony the passion of their lovemaking in reflecting on one tryst at the Tagawa inn:

We kept the bed out from the evening of the 27th to the morning of the 29th, and hardly slept at night doing every nasty deed possible. When I said I was tired Ishida would make love to me and even while sleeping he would massage my body very sweetly It was the first time in my life that I had met a man who treated a woman so well and who made me so happy I fell in love. I could never be separated from him…1


Harmonious Society Lost Paradise Japanese History Sexual Play Sada Story 
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  1. 1.
    Hon no Mori Henshū-bu, ed. Abe Sada Jiken chōsho zenbun (Kosumikku Intōnashonaru, 1997), 48–49.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Sakaguchi Ango, “Abe Sada-san no inshō.” Zadan 1, no. 1 (December 1947): 36.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    For further discussion of the poison woman in Japanese literary history in English, see Christine Marran “‘Poison Woman’ Takahashi Oden and the Spectacle of Female Deviance in Early Meiji,” U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal English Supplement 9 (1995): 93–110;Google Scholar
  4. Mark Silver, “The Lies and Connivances of an Evil Woman: Early Meiji Realism and The Tale of Takahashi Oden the She-Devil,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 63, no. 1 (2003): 5–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a discussion of sexology in Japan, see Sabine Frühstück, Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003),Google Scholar
  6. and Ryūichi Narita, “The Overflourishing of Sexuality in 1920s Japan,” in Gender and Japanese History, vol. 1, ed. Haruko Wakita et al. (Osaka: Osaka University Press, 1999), 345–370.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Maesaka Toshiyuki, Abe Sada shuki (Tokyo: Chūkōbunko, 1998), 164. Sada in testimony expresses that she felt a sense of futility and believed at some points that becoming a geisha was the only path left for her after being raped by a college student when she was young.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Awazu Kiyoshi et al., eds., Abe Sada: Shōwa jū-ichi nen no onna (Tokyo: Tabatake Shoten, 1976), 35.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    See Fukushima Akira et al., Nihon no seishin kantei (Misuzu Shobō, 1973), 31–60 for the full report.Google Scholar
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    See Horinouchi Masakazu, Abe Sada shōden (Tokyo: Jōhō Senta Shuppan Kyoku, 1998), 224–225.Google Scholar
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    William Johnston, Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 139.Google Scholar
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    Jitsuroku Abe Sada (The true story of Abe Sada), and Ai no koriida (In the realm of the senses); Watanabe Jun’ichi, A Lost Paradise (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000).Google Scholar
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    Sekine Hiroshi, Sekine Hiroshi shi-shū: Abe Sada (Tokyo: Doyōbijutsusha, 1971).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley 2005

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  • Christine Marran

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