Shuten Dōji was born an orphan child in Japan long ago. He was distraught despite being incredibly large, strong, and far beyond average intelligence. Some believed his parentage was beyond ordinary humans, and many thought one of his parents was a demon or even a dragon. When he was young, he joined a temple to become a monk but hated it. He was irreverent and rebellious, causing conflict with his fellow monks, and all-around didn’t seem to care much about his studies. The young man became consumed with love for alcohol, regularly drinking sake to excess. It was his drinking that would earn him his name, Shuten Dōji, which, when translated, means “little drunkard.”
Shuten Dōji was also a prankster. At a festival, he became incredibly intoxicated, then put on an oni (Japanese demon) mask and hid in wait for unsuspecting people to frighten them as he jumped out from hiding spots. He had a wonderful time terrifying people, much delighting in the fear he inspired in others. However, at the end of the evening, he was exhausted, and his drinking was catching up to him. But, when he tried to remove the mask, he was astonished that he could not take it off. The demon mask had fused to his face!
Greatly distressed, he sought help. Instead, the monks mocked him, taunted him, and even his teacher would not assist him. Everyone at the temple scolded him for his bad habits, evil mind, and drunken pranks, which infuriated Shuten Dōji. His heart grew dark, and he became completely consumed in anger. Now disfigured and shunned, the young monk walked away from the temple never to return. He journeyed into the wilderness, and there planned to live as a hermit. He could no longer be among the common people of ancient Japan with the demon mask as his face.
The solitude slowly drove Shuten Dōji insane. He grew to detest the world and all who dwell in it. But he did not despair and instead embraced the wickedness and evil that emanated within him. In doing so, Shuten Dōji became obsessed with the occult and began an intense self-education in black magic. He would then use his new dark powers to spread suffering. Anyone Shuten Dōji came across was in danger, and he sought out victims to torment often. He had no remorse in abducting men, women, or children, then murder them to drink their blood and gorge himself on their organs. Slowly those with a like-minded nature came to him and joined his cause of destruction and pain. Just like Shuten Dōji, these followers of his slowly transformed into oni (demons). All Japan was prey to his small army of demonic minions, and the wails of suffering echoed across the land.
He and his army of demons became so powerful they turned their eyes towards all of Japan with a desire to rule as tyrants. The world itself was their enemy, and they would bring torment upon the society that was so cruel to them. Shuten Dōji had a castle built, and when finished, he began his conquest of Japan. When not in his palace, the demon king would spill forth with his army and attack those who stood in his way. The capital of the country was his main target, and he attacked the city frequently, slowly weakening it. Not only this, but he and his followers continued to attack the innocent and unprotected civilians of the country at will.
The Japanese Emperor sought to stop the Demon King’s path of destruction before he grew too powerful to defeat. He called forth a great hero by the name of Raikō to journey to Shuten Dōji’s castle, and bring back the demon’s head. Honor bound, and without fear, the samurai and his men traveled to the castle.
Outside the bastion, they found an army of demons, drinking sake and reveling in debauchery. Using stealth and wit, Raikō and his men poisoned the vats of sake, which caused the demon army to fall into a drunken, poisoned slumber, allowing the brave samurai to sneak into the castle. They encountered many demons, killing them one by one in honorable combat. Then they finally came upon Shuten Dōji. The battle was one of brutality and elegant blade skill. But in the end, Raikō slew the Demon King. However, he had become so powerful not even death could claim him. Shuten Dōji’s head levitated and continued to attack the samurai. Eventually, they buried deep in the earth, where it could do no more harm. And there the Demon King remains, waiting for the day he may rise again and continue to bring pain and suffering to the world.