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“Shutendoji Monogatari,” (“The Tale of the Drunken Demon”), is one of Japan’s most popular folk tales, dating back to the 14th century. Beyond its depictions in pictures and scrolls, it features in kabuki and noh plays as well as modern-day comic books that highlight its humorous themes. The story has also served a didactic purpose, communicating ethics and religious beliefs, and providing important moral lessons about the follies of human nature.

The demon, Shutendoji, enters the world as the offspring of a Buddhist deity and a human woman. Early in life he develops an unhealthy fondness for liquor, and eventually, after a failed attempt to reform him at a Buddhist monastery, his true nature emerges. He becomes a demon and takes refuge in a distant mountain castle. His subsequent life of evil is punctuated by his assistants’ sorties into the capital to kidnap beautiful maidens.

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