A Tengu (天狗, tengu lit. Heavenly Dogs) is a form of youkai common in Japanese mythology. In general, tengu are analogous to the Western idea of goblins.
Two main subspecies of tengu exist. The karasu tengu, or crow tengu, are similar to anthropomorphic crows with a humanoid body structure, whilst the yamabushi tengu are more human-like, but with red skin and very long noses.
Tengu are said to be mischievous and sometimes malicious, with a propensity for playing pranks on humans. Although they disdain the proud and arrogant, they are often guilty of those same flaws. They are also associated with the arts of war and politics.
Objects often associated with the tengu include the shakujo, a ring-tipped staff used for magic or physical combat; the tokin, a strangely-shaped hat which can also be used as a divining cup; and the hauchiwa fan, which can be made from the leaves of the Japanese Aralia or from feathers, and is said to have the power to create gale-force winds.
The tengu of Gensokyo are known for their love of gossip and writing newspapers. Also, according to Aya they are great drinkers, only rivaled by Oni.
Books and articles:
- Wikipedia entry for tengu