Issei Sagawa, the Japanese cannibal

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Photo Credits:

Who has not seen Hannibal Lecter’s movies? None of us believe that the terrifying scenes of certain movies can actually happen in reality. In this case, however, cannibals do exist- and just in Papua New Guinea. 

 Issei Sagawa was born in Tokyo in 1949 and, at an early age, young Issei began to be obsessed with cannibalism. He himself recalls a game that, along with his brother, he played with his father and uncle: the latter impersonated a monster who ate children and who, after defeating the good samurai played by his father, he took the children under his arms and ran around the house with the intention of finding a pot to cook them in. It was an innocent game and fun, but Issei this game was the start of his obsession with cannibalism. This gruesome practice not only populated his dreams, day and night, but also influenced his reading and, later on, his passion for horror stories, especially if they involved the consumption of human flesh.

By adolescence Issei began to show signs of mental instability to the point that psychiatrists described him as an extremely dangerous.

On why no action was taken against him is perhaps to be explained by the figure of his father Akira, a very rich and powerful man, who was sitting at the top of Kurita Water Industries. Issei’s father took care of covering up, with large sums of money, the problems of his child. Issei was thus sent to Osaka to finish his university studies and in 1980 he managed to move to Paris, studying at the prestigious Sorbonne University, where he embarked on his path as a cannibal serial killer.

Issei himself confessed his crimes in the books that he wrote in the years following his first murder of a fellow university student who was selected by him because of her “health and beauty”; two qualities Issei never felt he had as he describes himself as ugly and inadequate.

After his first murder he stood trial in France and was sentenced to an indefinite stay in a mental institution, due to his mental state. However, as his books reached fame in Japan, he was extradited to his country where he was found to be legally sane, and as the case had been dropped in France, he was released and, till this day, walks as a free man.

In an interview, when asked if he would give in to cannibalistic urges, Issei said, “Oh, yes, no doubt. The desire to eat other people escalates in June, when women begin to dress less and show more skin . Earlier today I saw a girl with a really delicious derriere, on my way to the station. When I see things like this, I reflect on the fact that I want to eat someone again before I die. So yes, I still have these desires, and in this case I want to eat a Japanese woman. I think shabu shabu and sukiyaki [slices of veal and very thin pork which are boiled in a light broth] are the best food to really enjoy the natural flavor of the meat. Could you please put an ad in his magazine for people who would like to be eaten by me? But there is one condition: they must be young and beautiful women.”

Erika Sciarra.


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