The Tale of Shuten Doji is one of Japan's most famous folk tales. It is about a demon (Oni) who terrorizes a town by abducting and eating its young, innocent maidens. A brave warrior with the help of magic and four comrades eventually succeed in killing the demon. Peace is restored.
You can find a charming flip-book of the story HERE.
This story is losely based on the exploits of Minamoto Yorimitsu (948-1021, pictured) who the Emperor employed to stop a band of ruthless bandits from raiding the capital and kidnapping women. Minamoto became a legendary hero for restoring the peace.
During the Edo period (1615–1868), many artists in Japan illustrated scenes from this dramatic folk tale. Images of this popular legend appeared in works commissioned for elite patrons as well as in widely available printed books.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is sponsoring from March 21 to September 20 an exhibition exploring the "modes of visual narration through the museums' exceptional collection of works that illustrate tales surrounding the demon Shuten Dōji. Presented together for the first time are two sets of handscrolls, a pair of screens, sketches for a set of fan paintings by Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831–1889), and book illustrations by renowned Japanese painter Hokusai (1760–1849) and other artists, all in the collections of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, together with paintings from private collections." The link above has an excellent slide show of some of the work exhibited.