Story Premise

Tengu (or Karasutengu)

taken from Gods, Heros and Myth

It is a Japanese spirit that lives in mountain forests. Artistic depictions of the Tengu range from stumpy, bearded creatures to beings with great lumpy noses. According to lore, anyone entering the territory of the Tengu unwittingly can fall into strange and unpleasant situations. The Tengu can, in a flash, transform themselves into ugly little men, women and children; then they maliciously tease people with all sorts of nasty tricks. As quickly as they appear, just as quickly they vanish.

Some ancient beliefs depicted the Tengu as creatures of war and conflict. Sometimes their actions in legends are hypocritical. Artists depicted them with a bird's head on a human body with spreading wings and clawed feet. Until the 14th century, evil legends were told about the Tengu; but gradually they evolved into both good and bad beings. Many tales were told of the Tengu overcoming evil. In the Buddhist belief they became guides for monks in understanding the Dharma tenets and sacred rites, and also protected Buddhist shrines. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were revered as mountain deities- tributes were offered to them. The woodcutters and huntsmen offered tributes to the Tengu deities in order to receive success in their work.

Those that were less respectful found themselves in all sorts of trouble. The belief in the Tengu continued until the beginning of the 20th century. Today ceremonial festivals are held in their honour. Tales are still being told of them in modern Japan. In some areas, woodsmen still offer rice cakes to the Tengu before starting their work.

Source: Adapted From Norman A. Rubin-Asianart.com
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Relevance to Urusei Yatsura

Princess Kurama's race is based upon the Tengu. Most of her servants are of the bird-faced variety and not the long nosed kind. Kurama herself doesn't look much like the tengu of legend except for her hair looking like crow wings and carrying a giant leaf that controls the wind.

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