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Tengu are a type of Youkai
found in Japanese Mythology
that are most commonly associated with crows, known for their great agility, magical power and arrogancenote
As with most legendary creatures from ancient myth, there is a certain amount of variation in how they are depicted. The earliest depictions, often called Karasu Tengu (Crow Tengu), are depicted as anthropomorphic crows with a fully bird-like head and beak. Later depictions, known as Hanataka Tengu (Long-nosed Tengu), instead resemble humans with red skin and comically-long noses, who may or may not have crow wings
. Sometimes both types exist at once in a caste system, with the long-nosed and occasionally giant
Dai Tengu (Great Tengu) ruling over the avian Ko Tengu (Lesser Tengu).
Still others (especially in modern stories) might simply be Winged Humanoids
who otherwise look like ordinary people. Sometimes their large nose or beak might be part of a mask rather than an integral part of their own anatomy.
Tengu are often depicted as mountain-dwelling and are associated with martial arts, sometimes being cited as the origins of obscure martial arts disciplines or Ninja
techniques. They are particularly identified with yamabushi
, the mountain-dwelling monks of the Shugendo religion, and are often depicted wearing the yamabushi's traditional costume (depending on the story this may be a disguise, a show of religious devotion, or the original clothing that yamabushi garb was based on). Other common features include long white hair, "tengu geta"note
, and large fans made of feathers or yatsude leaves
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Anime and Manga
- Setsuna from Mahou Sensei Negima! is half "bird tribe". They never say the name, but they have encountered a full Bird Tribe Demon and it resembles the classical tengu.
- Both Haruka and Sugino in Tactics are tengu - Haruka is known as the Oni-eating Tengu before he is named and bound by the protagonist. Sugino fights with the traditional feather fan that magically raises huge gusts of wind, while Haruka carries a monk's shakujou with a spiked base. It's also stated that while Haruka was born tengu, Sugino became a tengu through arrogance and hubris—a genuine folklore reference.
- Yotsuba meets Jumbo dressed as a tengu boss during the cart-pulling festival of Yotsuba&!. She's young enough to find it scary, even though she knows it's a mask.
- One episode of Samurai Champloo features a cult of fanatical sohei (warrior-priests) who disguise themselves as tengu to waylay travelers. In Real Life, the legends of the tengu probably originated from sohei.
- Kurama-hime from Urusei Yatsura is a Cute Monster Girl version of the Tengu (though she trades the long nose for little crow wings on her head and is thusly an avian Petting Zoo People). She's also served by more traditional Karasu Tengu (which are runty little humanoid crows).
- In the Shoujo manga Black Bird the male "romantic" lead is a tengu, as well as all his pretty-boy relatives. Other spirits also fight with him for the protagonist, because drinking her blood gives a spirit immortality and marrying her brings prosperity to his clan.
- Shiftry from Pokémon. Oddly, this tengu does not have any real relation to crows, but it does have a large nose and giant fans for arms, which tengu were known to hold. It also has the long hair and wooden sandals characteristic of them.
- In Kekkaishi the main character helps the great tengu god to make an offspring.
- In Nurarihyon No Mago there a big amount of them, being show not only as the big nosed old men, but also as humans with crow wings or small anthro crow creatures.
- Some fans have referred to Shishiwakamaru of YuYu Hakusho as this.
- Kurama from Kamisama Kiss.
- xxxHolic features the “Kurasu Tengu,” who look like yakuza children on flying skateboards.
- Bleach: Love's zanpakuto is modeled after a Tengu's nose, being absurdly large and being named Tengumaru.note
- In Naruto members of the Uchiha clan are sometimes depicted with tengu imagery; most notably the Susanoo technique in its complete form is shaped like a Dai Tengu. The name Uchiha itself means "fan", an item commonly associated with tengu.
- One of the first story arcs in Yaiba features a village infested by a mischievous Tengu who steals their food. It's actually revealed to be Musashi with a Tengu mask on.
- The Mountain God in Hell Teacher Nube has several Tengu as his minions, and he often uses them to sever Nube and Yukime's bonds to one another. One of them almost succeeded in killing Nube using its giant wind-blowing leaf, which it first used to blow bad daydreams into Nube's mind and then went for the more direct approach of blowing Nube onto the train tracks as a train sped by.
- So far, only Karasu Tengu appear in Daily Life with Monster Girl, although their profile does mention Daitengu. They mostly avoid human, but will kidnap men during mating season. They only seek a Nice Guy, and can be driven away simply by verbal insult.
- Anpanman has Tengu Boy, a young tengu that uses his powers to get out of doing his chores (much to his father's displeasure).
- The leader of the Eastern youkai in Ushio and Tora is a tengu, though his usual appearance is an old man.
- Usopp from One Piece is referred to as a tengu by the samurai Kin'emon due to the former's long nose and assortment of tricks that the latter mistakes for jutsu. While this assessment is incorrect, Usopp does indeed draw some inspirations from tengus due to said reasons.
- In Japan Tengu Party Illustrated the fractured and disgraced remnants of the tengu species come together from all over the country to rise up, reclaim their pride, and rule over the nation of Japan.
- Karatenmon from Digimon is a Wizard Digimon whose name and design are derived from the mythological Karasu-tengu.
- In Neko Musume Michikusa Nikki the Tengu is, well, a tengu who serves as the overseer of the area's youkai. While he spends most of his time in the shape of a crow, he can transform into a Hanataka Tengu.
- In Bad Guys, the comic continuation of Gargoyles, the word "Tengu" is used as the Japanese word for "Gargoyle".
- The tengu were the ones to raise the main character in 47 Ronin before he ran away and entered human society. Unlike most portrayals, the tengu are shown as bald monks with almost no nose and very large eyes.
- In Tinker, Riki turns out to be a tengu spying for the oni.
- Several characters in Uchouten Kazoku are tengu living in modern-day Kyoto.
- Tokyo Ravens associates most of its cast with ravens, and indirectly with crow tengunote , but also features a group of tiny crow tengu as Kogure's Familiars.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry is briefly assisted by a group of katana-wielding tengu (referred to here as kenku) during the events of Changes.
- Bernard Adelstein is occasionally compared to one in Tokyo Vice thanks to his prominent schnoz. He also resembles a crow, in that as a crime reporter he's inquisitive and drawn to the stench of death.
Mythology and Folklore
- "The Tengu's Magic Cloak": A boy looks through an ordinary piece of bamboo and pretends he can see distant places. A tengu, overwhelmed by curiosity, offers to trade it for a magic straw cloak that renders the wearer invisible. Having duped the tengu, the boy continues his mischief while wearing the cloak. Another version of this story tells of an ugly old man who tricks a tengu into giving him his magical cloak and causes mayhem for his fellow villagers. The story ends with the tengu regaining the coat through a game of riddle exchange and punishes the man by turning him into a wolf.
- "The Old Man's Lump Removed": An old man has a lump or tumor on his face. In the mountains he encounters a band of tengu making merry and joins their dancing. He pleases them so much that they want him to join them the next night, and offer a gift for him. In addition, they take the lump off his face, thinking that he will want it back and therefore have to join them the next night. An unpleasant neighbor, who also has a lump, hears of the old man's good fortune and attempts to repeat it, and steal the gift. The tengu, however, simply give him the first lump in addition to his own, because they are disgusted by his bad dancing, and because he tried to steal the gift.
- "The Tengu's Fan": A scoundrel obtains a tengu's magic fan, which can shrink or grow noses. He secretly uses this item to grotesquely extend the nose of a rich man's daughter, and then shrinks it again in exchange for her hand in marriage. Later he accidentally fans himself while he dozes, and his nose grows so long it reaches heaven, resulting in painful misfortune for him.
- "The Tengu's Gourd": A gambler meets a tengu, who asks him what he is most frightened of. The gambler lies, claiming that he is terrified of gold. The tengu answers truthfully that he is frightened of a kind of plant or some other mundane item. The tengu, thinking he is playing a cruel trick, then causes money or rice cakes to rain down on the gambler. The gambler is of course delighted and proceeds to scare the tengu away with the thing he fears most. The gambler then obtains the tengu's magic gourd (or another treasured item) that was left behind.
- "The Tengu, and the Woodcutter": A tengu bothers a woodcutter, showing off his supernatural abilities by guessing everything the man is thinking. The woodcutter swings his ax, and a splinter of wood hits the tengu on the nose. The tengu flees in terror, exclaiming that humans are dangerous creatures who can do things without thinking about them.
- Dungeons & Dragons. The 1st Edition Oriental Adventures had crow-headed tengu as monsters. They were 2-3 foot tall humanoids with a crow's head and beak and feathered wings between their shoulder blades. They were maliciously evil, trying to harm all humans in their area. They fought using katana and wakizashi and could cast the Polymorph Self and Shout spells 3 times per day each.
- In 3rd Edition tengu are neutral and come in both crow and long-nose varieties - besides a handful of magical abilities they can mimic any sound, use their wings to confuse enemies, and have great skill with katana. Oddly, human-headed tengu are only half the size of humans while crow-headed tengu are the same size.
- D&D also features "kenku", a race of sneaky bird-men who lurk in the slums of large cities and are skilled at fighting in teams. Various editions of the game have gone back-and-forth between basing them on tengu (winged, with crow heads) or differentiating them (wingless, with hawk heads), and they may or may not share the D&D tengu's Sound Mimicry ability.
- Pathfinder features tengu as a playable race, albeit based mostly on D&D's kenku. They are proficient with all sword-like weapons, skilled at picking up new languages, and can eventually learn to transform into crows or long-nosed humans.
- Great Long Nose from the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG is based on the Tengu of Japanese folklore; its Japanese name translates to "Great Tengu."
- The tengu of Legend of the Five Rings are aloof but benevolent, and some of Rokugan's greatest swordmasters trained under them.
- Tengu appear in Malifaux as some of the many mythical creatures serving the Ten Thunders.
- Aya Shameimaru and Hatate Himekaidou from Touhou Project. Momizi Inubashiri is also listed as a tengu, but she is of the white wolf variety instead of a crow. It could be that she is a Tiangou, a dog-like creature from Chinese mythology that's related to the Japanese tengu.
- Tengu are noted as having the most advanced society of all youkai in Gensokyo, due to there being an unusual number of myths about its organisation. Specifically they have a government of Great Tengu, a bureacracy of Long-nosed Tengu, printing presses run by Yamabushi Tengu, a "nimble information corps" of Crow Tengu (the variety most often seen by outsiders) and a border patrol of White Wolf Tengu.
- Naturally, Tengu Man from Mega Man 8. He has a long red nose and wields the power of wind.
- Ōkami has the crow-like version ("Crow Tengu"), and the long-nosed version ("Great Tengu").
- Gohyakumine Bankotsubo, the boss of Dead or Alive 2, and a playable character in Dead or Alive 4. His skin is dark black, with white facial hair, and a very long nose. The arcade version of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate brought back his moveset but in true Dead or Alive fashion, gave it to an attractive female instead.
- Mr Karate disguises himself with a Tengu mask in Art of Fighting and a couple of The King of Fighters cameos.
- One of these is a miniboss in MadWorld. Or at least, a guy dressed like one. He uses ninjutsu, and appears in stages and stage segments with ninja.
- Zeno Clash: Father-Mother appears to be inspired by this, if not explicitly based on them. He/She sports the phallic nose, and general crow theme.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the Empire has the Mecha Tengu/Jet Tengu, an anti-infantry skirmisher and air superiority fighter with a long nose. The Command and Conquer wiki explicitly points the connection to the mythical beast, calling it a half-bird half-man with a long nose and a bad temper.
- Guild Wars
- The Tengu are native both to the European-style Tyria (where they are universally hostile) and to the Eastern-themed Cantha (where one clan is friendly). A branch family modeled after the quetzal bird can be found in the Tarnished Coast.
- In Guild Wars 2, the tengu clans have reunited and formed a neutral nation of their own, the Dominion of Winds. Due to years of being treated as monsters and their recent forced exile from Cantha, the nation is understandably reluctant to make allies.
- Achaea has wild Tengu in one of the forests. They appear as winged black kittens, and are about as cute as you'd expect flying kittens to be.
- Tengu are present in the mountainous regions of Muramasa The Demon Blade. Both purple/black and red/white varieties look roughly 50% human and crow. The red/white ones explode when killed.
- The later Monster Rancher games have the Raiden family of monsters, which, though named after the god, are clearly modeled on tengu, with their birdlike faces and mastery of martial arts.
- Shin Megami Tensei, like the oni example above, has several types of Tengu running around: from tiny annoyances (Koppa Tengu), to evil corruptive spirits (Karasu Tengu) to competent, powerful warriors (Kurama Tengu), each modelled after a different branch of Tengu.
- The "Iai Slash" minigame in Rhythm Tengoku features various Tengu as the main enemies.
- The toriningen of Yume Nikki, being tall humanoids with long, beak-like noses. True to form, the angry variants carry off Madotsuki and place her in inescapable areas.
- Hana Tāka Daka!?, a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter for the PC Engine, stars a flying tengu.
- Joe Musashi fights a crow tengu Mini-Boss in the first stage of Round 6 of Shinobi 3.
- Tengu show up as teleporting monsters in Nethack. They're useful as a way of getting teleport control.
- In Angband, tengu are minor demons that can cast some teleport spells.
- One of the many characters you can kiss in Chulip
- Shiftry from Pokémon is a Grass and Dark type based on a tengu. It has a long nose, fan-like leaves for hands, and even feet shaped like tengu geta. Its version counterpart (Ludicolo) is based on a Kappa.
- The Legend of the Mystical Ninja has a stage named Tengu Mountain, where the long noses of tengu heads carved out of rock can be used as platforms. There is also a Mini-Boss fight against three tengu warriors, one of which throws a yatsude leaf as a weapon.
- In the backstory of Metroid the Chozo started off as Ancient Egyptian Tengu IN SPACE, but had an epiphany in their twilight years that led them to reinvent themselves as peaceful scientists. Even in the present day, however, they are more than capable of training Samus into one of the galaxy's greatest warriors.
- Chikage in Enchanted In The Moonlight is a tengu, although being as it's a romance game he lacks any trace of the traditional long nose and instead appears as a handsome young man with black-feathered wings.
- Tenma Taro in the case "The Monstrous Turnabout" of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies is modeled after a tengu, although he's not explicitly referred to as such in the English script.
- The SCP Foundation's SCP-746 is a Japanese birdlike humanoid creature with a long nose. It claims to be 700 years old, yet demonstrated high agility and skills in several martial arts during attempts to capture it.
- In Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, the feathers of the Tengu were used to create the Ninja suit. In the episode "Evil Spirit Week," Howard becomes possessed by a Tengu.