The tengu kind would hide their attractive visages behind ceremonial masks. They would attack by creating powerful gales with their scepters, capable of gouging out large patches of soil. Each one held swiftness enough to elude the human eye, their presence only indicated by the telltale clouds of dust and debris in their wake. Yet the exceptional Tenma Jirobo broke tradition by sparing puny humans the destruction of such techniques. His kindness could have been attributed to his equally exceptional enlightenment.
Tengu (天狗?, "heavenly dog") are a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai (supernatural beings). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou), 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 widely considered the tengu's defining characteristic in the popular imagination. Buddhism long held that the tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war. Their image gradually softened, however, into one of protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests.
Artwork by Yongjae Choi.