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  • Takeshi Kazui

The Real Demon Slayer Corps 鬼殺隊

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Have you seen "DEMON SLAYER"? It's the hottest anime in Japan right now. Today I'm going to tell you about the legend of a real-life "Demon Slayer Corps".

Rengoku's katana clad in flames

The samurai known as the Demon Killer

Minamoto no Yorimitsu (Raikô) Artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861), Publisher Izumiya Ichibei (Kansendô) (Japanese) about 1820 (Bunsei 3)
Source<https://collections.mfa.org/objects/209013/minamoto-no-yorimitsu-raiko>

Minamoto no Yorimitsu, 源 頼光, 948 – August 29, 1021 CE, also known as Minamoto no Raikô, served the regents of the Fujiwara clan, taking the violent measures the Fujiwara were themselves unable to take. He is one of the earliest Minamoto of historical note for his military exploits, and has many anecdotes about exterminating demons. It is known for quelling the bandits of Mount Oe, which were demons.


The Legend of Shuten-dôji

The time was the Heian period 794-1192 CE, the time of Emperor Ichijô. Kyoto, the capital of Japan, had prospered, but it was the prosperity of only a handful of aristocrats. The world was disturbed, and the people had been terrified by unrest.

In such a world, a demon Shuten-dôji 酒呑童子 disobeyed the dynasty, and kidnapped princesses from Kyoto one after another.


The Demon Slayer Corps

The dynasty decided to deploy a special forces to Mount Oe, where demons live, in order to retrieve the princess and exterminate the Shuten-dôji.

The Demon Slayer Corps was headed by Minamoto no Yorimitsu and consisted of Fujiwara no Yasumasa 藤原保昌 and the following four heavenly kings: Sakata no Kintoki 坂田公時, Watanabe no Tsuna 渡辺綱, Urabe no Suetakeト部季武, and Usui no Sadamitsu 碓井貞光.


Sake given by the gods

They dressed in yamabushi, which are itinerant Buddhist monks and Japanese mountain ascetic hermits, to hide their appearance and 'murderous intent' on the demons.

On their way, they met the gods in the form of an old man, who gave them a poisonous sake called "Jinbenkidokushu 神便鬼毒酒". The gods then told them where to find the demons.

While the Demon Slayer Corps was being guided by the old men, they met a princess washing her bloody kimono by the riverside. She told them about the demon's secret base, and they were able to reach Shuten-dôji's mansion.


Last Supper

Shuten-dôji and his henchmen, the demons, greeted the Demon Slayer Corps with bloody sake and human flesh, and it was truly a picture of hell.

When the party was in full swing, they gave the drunken demons and their minions poisoned sake to put them to sleep.

Yorimitsu immediately grabbed his sword and beheaded the drunken demon, the head tumbled down with a scream.

Finally, the Demon Slayer Corps rescued the captured princess, and Yorimitsu and his party returned to the capital.


The legend has a strange ending: while carrying the Shuten-dôji’s head, the criminal was beheaded and his head was exposed to the public in ancient Japan. On the border of Tamba and Yamashiro, at Oinosaka, the demon's head suddenly became so heavy that even the toughest demon slayer could not lift it. It is said that the head of the demon was buried there.


The DEMON SLAYER Movie Is out Now!!

Have you seen the movie"DEMON SLAYER-MUGEN TRAIN ARC" yet?


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