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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Stories From Japan: Is that a Tengu?

I've encountered a lot of animals in Japan, from deer to monkeys and your common house-pets. I never thought I would have such an abnormal encounter to a common outdoor animal such as a crow. Crows are kind of those universal birds that every sees around outside. From my past experiences with crows, they are loud and seem like they always have a watchful eye on you but nothing more. In Japan, I experienced something completely different.

Let me start off by explaining what a tengu is. A tengu is a creature in Japanese folklore that can be considered a yokai or demon. A tengu has features of a long nose and looks like a super-powered goblin with the ability to fly, use magical powers and super strength. The tengu derives from a crow and has gained enough power to be consider a semi-god. They live in mountainous areas with thick forests. Specifically, some known special skills of their's is having the power to control wind, sword fighting skills and to fly with their bird-like wings. Most tengu stories tell tales of abductions.

Now that we are familiar with what a tengu is, let's get on with the story!

On my honeymoon, my husband and I stayed at a very nice hotel near Tokyo that the guided tour booked for us. This hotel had the special feature of having a Japanese garden in the center for guests to stroll through in their free-time. I remember it was the morning we were leaving the hotel. My husband and I were finished eating breakfast downstairs in the dinning area, so we decided to take a nice walk through the garden while we wait for our departure to our next destination.
Picture of the Japanese garden from my hotel room.
At the time we were in the garden, there were not many people around. My attention at the time were on the koi fish in the pond. What I didn't realize was that there was a crow perched on a rail near me. I was surprised by the crow because it was huge! I have never seen a crow so huge in my life. It was like a mutated crow, it was so big. Not only did the size impress me but also how pretty it was.

You know how some people like to talk to animals like they're listening and understand you, but you know that they actually don't? Well, I'm one of those people. I talk to my dog all the time. Anyway, I started talking to the crow. My memory of the one-sided conversation isn't that great but I think I just complimented it on its size and beauty.

When my husband called for me to follow him, I told the crow goodbye. I kid you not, the crow hopped towards me on the railing as I was walking away. I could see the movement in the corner of my eye so I stopped to turn around. The crow's attention was one me, and me alone. I couldn't help but be amazed by this shocking behavior. The images that came rushing in my mind were all the stories I read about tengu, whether they were articles online or from manga I've read such as Black Bird and Hajimemashita Kamisama (love those shojo manga by the way). I grew a very strong interest in this creature from Japanese folklore over the years and knew it would only stay that way, a story.
The crow I encountered in the garden.
Was I face to face with a tengu right now?!? I really thought I was! My husband finally came over to me after realizing I was not following him. He asked what I was looking at and I told him about the crow that was following me. I told him how there is a mythical creature in Japanese folklore that could turn itself into a crow and is known for abducting people. My husband gave me a small giggle, one of those giggles you hear from people who are laughing at what you're saying but dies down after realizing you are being serious.

I was thrilled yet scared at the time of interacting with this crow that I truly believed could have been a tengu. That crow was way too smart to not be a tengu in my opinion. But I'm glad I had such an experience because it made me feel closer to traditional Japan and it's rich culture and history.

Thank you for reading my stories from Japan! I hope you enjoyed it. For more Japan and Japan related content, please follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I love talking to y'all about Japan!

Until next time! じゃあね!