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Tengu (天狗, tengu lit. Heavenly Dogs) is a form of youkai common in Japanese mythology. In general, tengu are analogous to the Western idea of goblins.

Two main subspecies of tengu exist. The karasu tengu, or crow tengu, are similar to anthropomorphic crows with a humanoid body structure, whilst the yamabushi tengu are more human-like, but with red skin and very long noses.

Tengu are said to be mischievous and sometimes malicious, with a propensity for playing pranks on humans. Although they disdain the proud and arrogant, they are often guilty of those same flaws. They are also associated with the arts of war and politics.

Objects often associated with the tengu include the shakujo, a ring-tipped staff used for magic or physical combat; the tokin, a strangely-shaped hat which can also be used as a divining cup; and the hauchiwa fan, which can be made from the leaves of the Japanese Aralia or from feathers, and is said to have the power to create gale-force winds.

The tengu of Gensokyo are known for their love of gossip and writing newspapers. Also, according to Aya they are great drinkers, only rivaled by Oni.

Example: Kaze, Hatate, Momiji, and Aya.

Note: The rest of the Information is not related to Touhou.

Types of Tengu

Tengu folklore has been found in both Buddhist and Shinto mythology, and the Tengu are often portrayed a bit differently depending on the text and the era the information originated from. There are a few different types of Tengu:

Karasu Tengu

Called minor tengu, crow tengu, or Kotengu, these are the oldest form of the crow-goblins. They were originally portrayed as evil, tree dwelling beings with the bodies of men, beaked faces, small heads heavy claws and feathered wings. They were known to start fires, and to rip apart people who intentionally harmed the forest. They were also known to abduct adults and children. On occasion they would later release the captive, who then suffered a state of dementia known as Tengu Kakushi, literally "hidden by a Tengu." They serve the Daitengu, and are believed by some groups to generally be spirits of ignorant people being punished for excessive pride.

Kurama Tengu

These Tengu specifically inhabit Mt. Kurama, north of Kyoto. Among those living in this area is Sōjōbō, the ancient and white-haired King of the Tengu, who befriended and taught the hero Minamoto Yoshitsue.

Daitengu

The Daitengu, also called major Tengu or Yamabushi Tengu, are commonly portrayed as a tall man with either a long or beaked nose, red face, and dressed as a priest or hermit. They generally carry a small hat that doubles as a drinking cup, a magic fan, and a staff or a small mallet. They may wear wooden sandals, and they may or may not have wings. Regardless of having wings or not, they still fly, and their fans can create great windstorms

This much newer version of the Tengu are considered more to be spirits of protection. It has the ability to change its shape, but generally prefers the form of a wandering and barefooted old monk or hermit with a long nose. They are, in this way, associated with tanuki and the oinari, both of whom are known to take human form.

Daitengu are thought by some to be the souls of knowledgeable men, often fallen monks or warriors. Like the Karasu Tengu they were Buddhists that couldn't go to hell, but were not good enough to go to heaven.


In the work Tengu Meigikō the Daitengu are ranked, listed alongside the places they are thought to call home:

  • Sōjōbō (Mount Kurama)
  • Tarōbō (Mount Atago)
  • Jirōbō (Hira Mountains)
  • Sanjakubō (Mount Akiba)
  • Ryūhōbō (Mount Kōmyō)
  • Buzenbō (Mount Hiko)
  • Hōkibō (Mount Daisen)
  • Myōgibō (Mount Ueno)
  • Sankibō (Itsukushima)
  • Zenkibō (Mount Ōmine)
  • Kōtenbō (Katsuragi)
  • Tsukuba-hōin (Hitachi Province)
  • Daranibō (Mount Fuji)
  • Naigubu (Mount Takao)
  • Sagamibō (Shiramine)
  • Saburō (Mount Iizuna)
  • Ajari (Higo Province)

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