In the Realm of the Senses

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In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no korīda) is a full-length Japanese motion picture that was released in 1976. This controversial film was directed by Nagisa Oshima and has caused debate in every continent it has traveled on. In the Realm of the Senses is actually based on the true story of Abe Sada, a Japanese woman who, in the 1930’s, cut off her husband’s testicles and penis. The movie is sexually explicit and does contain graphic scenes of sexual activity between some of the actors.


Sada is an ex-prostitute who is a self-described nymphomaniac. She finds work in a hotel as a maid but is not happy with her job. She meets the hotel’s owner, Kichizo Ishida, who, it turns out, is as obsessed with sex as she is. The two start having an affair, right under Kichizo’s wife’s nose. Sada ends up becoming even more obsessed with sex and one day realizes that she enjoys mixing pleasure and pain. Kichizo is willing to do anything Sada asks, including having sex with an older woman while Sada watches.

At one point Sada ends up speaking with an old teacher of hers. She gets so fed up with him that she asks him to slap her. He does and she finds she enjoys it. She tells Kichizo about the incident and he asks her to slap him, so he can experience the sensation. This is when the tide turns from sex to a deeper obsession with each other. Sada threatens Kichizo, telling him that she will kill him if he ever looks at another woman. She includes his wife in this statement and Kichizo is left to ignore his wife in order to keep his sex-obsessed mistress. Kichizo eventually discovers that he gets extremely turned-on when Sada is strangling him during sex. Eventually Kichizo is killed during the act and Sada seems to go insane. She cuts off Kichizo’s genitals and writs a message with the blood on his chest. “Sada and Kichi, now and one” is one of the last camera shots in this strange tale of love, lust and obsession.

The True Story

Abe Sada is, in fact, a true person. In 1936 it was discovered that she strangled her lover, Kichizo Ishida, during a particularly rough bout of sex. She then severed his penis and testicles and placed them in her handbag, which she continued to carry around with her. Sada was caught three days after the murder and, unlike many criminals, was photographed smiling shortly after her arrest. She was tried and found guilty. The six years she was committed to serve in prison, however, did not happen. In 1940 her sentence was commuted and she was free to go. She tried to marry, but once her husband discovered her true identity he divorced her. Sada tried acting and eventually disappeared. Rumors have circulated that she died anywhere from 1987 to 1989, and it is a fact that in 1987 she stopped putting flowers on Kichizo’s grave. M

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