Tengu might have existed in 19th century | Japanese Yokai

Generally speaking, Tengu is a legendary and well-known monster that has been passed down for centuries in Japan.

However, it’s identity has been wrapped in a mystery even now, because there is no certain evidence that Tengu existed.

As a result, some people and narratives describe that Tengu might be notorious, but also such a god. That being said, a story of Tengu has handed down by a lot of people through sighting reports, folklore, and so on.

Thus, this article will describe, and approach about Tengu by following this information this time.

The Origin of Tengu in Japan

The oldest sighting report about Tengu has been mentioned in Nihonsyoki that is an ancient and history book in Japan.

Image of Nihonsyoki
Image of Nihonsyoki

According to the book, a shooting star appeared in the sky as moving from east to west with sharp noise such as thunder.

People at that time thought that the shooting stars just passed in the sky with noise.

However, a person called Min who is knowledgeable for Buddhism, and comes from old china advocated another thought. It is that the shooting stars were actually Tengu, and the noise was its howling according to him.

Actually, we are not able to make sure that this story is true or false, but this is the first sighting report of Tengu in Japan.

Incidentally, Tengu originally means shooting stars in India, and the word was expressed as a Chinese character. After that, it came to Japan from China.

Is Tengu’s identity Buddhist monk?

As I already mentioned before, no one knows about Tengu’s identity obviously even now. but, some hypotheses are built.

The first speculation of Tengu is that Yamabushi might be it.

Yamabushi is the name of a Buddhist monk in Japan, and particularly belong to faith in nature as mountain worship and used to train in a mountain to gain spiritual power.

Image of Yamabushi

In addition, it is said that Yamabushi spread wisdom, and contributed people by prayer, and using magical power gained from training.

The reason why Yamabushi might be Tengu is that their clothing is very similar, and they used to be sighted in a mountain. Therefore, there is a possibility that witnesses may just mistake Tengu for Yamabushi.

As an unscientific narrative, there is a legendary story that the Yamabushi would be Tengu after they died in a mountain.

Tengu was showed up in 19th century

From this section, the article describes about a concrete spot related Tengu’s legend.

First, there is a curious narrative which was described by a boy called “Torakichi” who existed in the 19th century.

According to Torakichi, he went to HitachinoKuni belongs to the present Tochigi prefecture by riding on a flying pot with an elderly person whom he met. After that, he arrived in a mountain where Tengus live.
Then, he encountered Tengu and learned spiritual training from them.

After that, Torakichi went back to the real world and return their place often time. The detail of his experience and Tengu’s world has been mentioned by a book called “Senkyo Ibunroku”.

This book was written to be based on Torakichi’s interview, and published by Atsutane Hirata in 1882 (The most modern version of the book published in 2018) .

The author is a Japanese scholar who researched cultural, and spiritual thought that is not influenced by religion in Japan.

The author Hirata Atsutane

So, this book might be precious, and one of the few references that the legend of Tengu’s world described.

Mt.Atago might have been Tengu’s residence

As a mysterious relationship between Tengu’s world and Torakichi, he referred to their residence in the real world.

That place is “Mt.Atago in Ibaraki”.

He mentioned that there were thirteen Tengus, and they lived there.

Actually, we can not confirm that truth, but in reality, 13 monuments which are shaped like Tengu are set in Mt.Atago even now.

Image by Holisun via 4 travel.jp

Conclusion and Other Tengu’s spot

In conclusion, this article referred to curious legends about Tengu and approached that identity thorough historical background and narrative.

However, places that are relevant to Tengu are everywhere in Japan.

For instance, Mt.Takao in Tokyo is one of them but, this continuing story will be too long.

Tengu's Sculpture at Mt.Takao

So I will mention it for another time.