Monday, May 21, 2012

Tokoyo (for Tokyo)

On May 20th (or 21st—both Wikipedia and the web at large seem uncertain of the exact date) in 1936, Sada Abe was arrested in Tokyo for erotically asphyxiating her lover, Kichizo Ishida, and then cutting off his genitals ("mutilation of a corpse") and carrying them around with her in a handbag. Despite the fact that she supposedly did this for love rather than hate, and that the incident was later widely mythologized by "artists, philosophers, novelists and filmmakers" as being sort of romantic, I nevertheless find the broad smiles all around at the police station to be weirdly disconcerting. In any event, Lorena Bobbitt, step aside; such cases are apparently more common than we might otherwise believe, though thankfully still quite rare (compared to the domestic abuse that generally prompts them). I've got to confess: I started writing about this fascinating tale before I actually contrived a typo to go with it. The usual suspects did not yield any useful information, which is why I finally settled on Tokoyo, rather than something a little more pointed. There were 17 examples in OhioLINK this morning, and 389 in WorldCat. Please keep in mind that Tokoyo is also the name of another female figure in Japanese mythology, and some of these may be referencing her.

(Picture of Sada Abe's arrest in Tokyo, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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