Anniversary Post: Yaoya Oshichi’s Sadistic Murder

Yaoya Oshichi - Utagawa KuniteruOn this day back in 1683, Yaoya Oshichi was burned at the stake. She was 16 years old. Apparently, she had fallen in love with a temple page during a fire. So the following year (1682), she set a fire, hoping that she would get a chance to see him again. But she was caught. Apparently, the magistrate at her trial tried to save her life by claiming that she was 15 years old. (You had to be 16 to get the death penalty. This is accepted everywhere — except in Texas.) But the clueless girl corrected him and ended up burning. The story is a very famous one in Japan and has been broadly romanticized in literature.

This took place toward the beginning of the Edo period. At that time, the government applied the death penalty in cases of murder and, as with Oshichi, arson. And the ways they killed people were varied. The less terrible ones are decapitation, waist-cutting (just what it sounds like), are crucifixion. The more terrible ones are sawing (mostly what you are thinking), burning, and boiling. I really don’t understand these torture deaths. I can understand the eye-for-an-eye philosophy of the death penalty — even if I don’t accept it. But these torture deaths can only be the result of psychopathic minds.

So 333 years ago, a girl was burned death. I can’t say that we humans have gotten any better. And I am definitely not just talking about the recent activity of the Islamic State. Sometimes I think the one thing that binds together all of the “great men” of the world now and forever is a lack of empathy.

Happy anniversary of the sadistic murder of Yaoya Oshichi!

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