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Tengu ("heavenly dogs") are a class of supernatural creatures found in Japanese folklore, art, theater, and literature. They are one of the best known y¨­kai (monster-spirits) and are sometimes worshipped as Shinto kami (revered spirits or gods). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon, the tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is practically the tengu's defining characteristic in the popular imagination.

In other Japanese folklore, the female Tengus are described as having a humanoid body but the head of an animal with huge fangs for teeth and enormous ears and noses. There are two other types of Tengu--the Karasa Tengu and the Konoha Tengu. The tengus are particularly aggressive and skilled in the martial arts. They inhabited a fortress in the dark forests of Mount Kurama north of Kyoto, where warriors hope to meet one and absorb their skills, but any other traveler will be turned mad if they encounter a Tengu. In modern times these monsters have been demonized to become praksters and child-stealing beings, something like a Nursery bogie.

Rose, C. Giants, Monsters, & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth. Norton Publishing Company. 2001.