Geisha, harlot, strangler, star : a woman, sex, and morality in modern Japan

by Johnston, William, 1955-

Format: Print Book 2005
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction HV6535.J33 T63 2005
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  HV6535.J33 T63 2005
In May 1936, Abe Sada committed the most notorious crime in twentieth-century Japan--the murder and emasculation of her lover. What made her do it? And why was she found guilty of murder yet sentenced to only six years in prison? Why have this woman and her crime remained so famous for so long, and what does her fame have to say about attitudes toward sex and sexuality in modern Japan?

Despite Abe Sada's notoriety and the depictions of her in film and fiction (notably in the classic In the Realm of the Senses ), until now, there have been no books written in English that examine her life and the forces that pushed her to commit the crime. Along with a detailed account of Sada's personal history, the events leading up to the murder, and its aftermath, this book contains transcripts of the police interrogations after her arrest--one of the few existing first-person records of a woman who worked in the Japanese sex industry during the 1920s and 1930s--as well as a memoir by the judge and police records.

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star steps beyond the simplistic view of Abe Sada as a sexual deviate or hysterical woman to reveal a survivor of rape, a career as a geisha and a prostitute, and a prison sentence for murder. Sada endured discrimination and hounding by paparazzi until her disappearance in 1970. Her story illustrates a historical collision of social and sexual values--those of the samurai class and imported from Victorian Europe against those of urban and rural Japanese peasants.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In a smart, compelling examination of the real-life basis of the classic film In the Realm of the Senses0 , Johnston presents Abe Sada, Japan's most notorious female criminal. In 1936, after days spent with her married lover, she strangled him and cut off his genitals--for love, she explained to authorities, and to have and control him forever. The case galvanized the Japanese imagination, for Sada, represented by media as the archetypal "dangerous woman," whose sexuality threatened traditional domestic stability, tapped a current of subconscious social fear. By considering Sada's limited options at the time and the structure of the sex industry, which punished would-be escapees from it by selling their contracts to ever-seedier brothels, Johnston allows us to see Sada as imprisoned by circumstances, which included rape, even more than by her six-year incarceration for the murder-mutilation of the love of her life. Including notes from the police interrogation of Sada, this well-researched, scholarly work is a service to women's studies as well as Asian cultural history. --Whitney Scott Copyright 2004 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Additional Information
Series Asia perspectives.
Subjects Abe, Sada, -- 1905-
Murder -- Japan -- Tokyo -- History -- Case studies.
Sex crimes -- Japan -- Tokyo -- History -- Case studies.
Women murderers -- Japan -- Tokyo -- Biography.
Prostitutes -- Japan -- Tokyo -- Biography.
Publisher New York :Columbia University Press,2005
Language English
Description viii, 245 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 227-233) and index.
ISBN 023113052X
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