Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797–1861)
Tale of the Drunken Demon: A Ribald Parody (Ōeyama), vol. 1 of 3
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1831
Woodblock-printed book; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

Popularized by Toriyama Sekien, the original story of Ōeyama described the efforts of the historical figure Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147–1199) and his four retainers to find the demon king Shuten Dōji and rescue the maidens he had kidnapped. During their search, the heroes encountered another creature—the enormous, treacherous Earth Spider—which they quickly exterminated. Disguised as Buddhist monks (yamabushi) who had lost their way in the mountains, the heroes then entered Shuten Dōji’s lair, requested his help, joined him and his minions for a banquet, laced their wine with a narcotic, and ultimately slaughtered all of the monsters after letting them fall into a drunken stupor.

In Kuniyoshi’s parody, the heroes are shown attending the banquet with Shuten Dōji and his horde of demons, a scene directly copied from Sekien’s The Illustrated One Hundred Demons from the Present and the Past (Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki, c. 1779). A flap is mounted to each of these pages, and when the flaps are turned, we see an erotic parody of Yoritomo’s encounter with the Earth Spider. The spider has been replaced by a naked prostitute, and rather than fighting her, the soldiers are engaged in a very claustrophobic and disorienting orgy.

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