Collected Item No. 0723
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TenguCollected Item Memorandum Catalog #0723


Picture of Tengu. Extremely rare, as most Tengus dislike pictures.

Capture year unknown. Earliest record in the Collected Item Memorandum dates back to the year 725. Strictly speaking, the word “Tengu” appears in the Nihon Shoki in the year 687. At the time, the word for Tengu1 was instead read as “Amatsukitsune”, and referred to a beast handed down from Chinese folklore that runs like a meteor across Heaven2. In short, the earliest record for an intelligent race of yōkai​ that inhabited the mountains was in the year 725. Since then, the word for “Tengu” has been used with this meaning.

It is an accepted theory that there was no intelligent race of yōkai​ inhabiting the mountainous regions of our country until 725. Before then, mountain monsters were just mountain monsters, and what we now classify as Tengus, Yamaubas and Kodamas were jumbled together, treated as one race. Changes in human views on nature and religion led to the segmentation of these entities. Thus, being strongly influenced by human perception, they may have differentiated into more distinctively unique characteristics through the segregation of physical habitats or narrative niche3.

Now, allow me to give you a summary on Tengus. The basics is that they look similar to humans, and dress like mountain ascetics (Yamabushi monks). There is a species of tengu with red faces and prominent noses, and another with beaks and other bird-like features4. Possess wings and are capable of flight. Their strength varies with each individual, but possessing divine power5 is common amongst them. Their origin being mountain Gods that fell into ruin used to be highly prominent. However, because Tengu are practitioners of Shugendō, which is to say, they are worshippers and not recipients of worship, it’s been said in recent years that they are a specialized race (Known as retainers) with common ancestry with other mountain monsters, whose role is to serve or perform rituals for the mountain Gods6. Of course, this new theory doesn’t contradicts the “Mountain God Origin” theory. A situation in which a former master becomes a follower can occur due to the conquest7 of a god from another place, or the reversal in position between lords and retainers. [Own research]

Throughout our agency’s long history, the policy regarding collecting of Tengu has not been the direct capture of any individual, but rather the focus of concealing their habitats. A reason for this is that their population is numerous, and their distribution extensive, making their complete capture impossible. Furthermore, Japan’s sacred mountains are environments established by the Tengu. We don’t know what could happen were we to lock all Tengus inside cages. Rather, doing so could increase the likelihood of trouble. And they essentially never leave their home habitat anyway. This policy has been maintained and continued for two reasons: It is basically impossible to carry out and, even if it was possible to carry out, any sort of advantage generated would be minimal. Now, the situation regarding the agency and Tengu (And all other monsters) is an extension of this. The majority of our assets have been absorbed by the Foundation, and us, barely clinging to the agency’s cause, have been left chronically understaffed and underfunded8. We cannot access the details of their habitat, let alone capture all of them9.

According to the records, in the year 1599 (Keichō 4) over 50 mountain regions were inhabited by Tengu, whose numbers were nearly 130,000. However, records from the start of the Meiji era indicate that their habitats were approximately 10, and their numbers between 5,000 and 10,000, showing a rapid decline in their numbers. It is believed to be related to the Meiji-era law of Shinbutsu bunri10, but the details are not definitely known. Based on the belief that human law would not directly affect Tengu11, several hypotheses about an indirect influence have been established. To begin with, there’s a theory that the previous number of Tengu were a combination of Tengu and humans who used to practice Shugendō in the mountains, a theory that most people involved in Tengu-related activities were mountain ascetics, and that their interference delayed the institution’s investigation12, a theory that the collapse of their faith’s beliefs caused problems for their sacred lands13, and so forth.

As of 2017, the Agency has acknowledged the existence of eight habitats.

First, Mt. Atago, Kyoto Prefecture

Due to its proximity to the old capital, it’s the habitat that has been observed the most by the agency14. At the same time, groups other than the Agency, especifically the Gogyō-Kessha, regard the mountain as the most dangerous of its kind. Tengu who descended the mountain and approached the capital were often purged by the society. The agency took advantage of the local mountain ascetics who believed in Tengu, and enshrined Tarōbō, the leader of the Tengu of Mt. Atago, as part of a plan to keep their influence within the mountain15. In the Middle Ages, Mt. Atago flourished as training grounds for mountain ascetics, and it’s said separating ascetics from Tengus was extremely difficult.

Atago’s mountain worship has Atago Gongen as its central deity, Izanami-no-Mikoto as its manifested deity, and the bodhisattva Jizō (Shōgunjizō) as the true form of the Buddha. As stated before, the Tengu Tarōbō is enshrined and deified as well (Sometimes equated with the deity Kagutsuchi-no-Mikoto). This is extremely interesting from the standpoint of the “Mountain God’s downfall” theory. If a deity that loses faith power becomes a monster, it’s believed that a deity that reacquires said faith can return to its deity position16. In truth, Daitengu prayed not only for victory in battle, but also for protection against calamity, especially divine blessings against fire17. During the Shōwa era, Mt. Atago became a tourist attraction, and many civilians visited the mountain. Also, after the war, the Foundation began sending survey teams to investigate the mountain. Despite this, no Tengus were discovered. One factor for this could be their decrease in population, but it’s also believed to be their powers to repel calamities. [Own research] Only a few Tengu currently live in hiding.

Second, Mt. Iizuna, Nagano Prefecture

Mt. Iizuna is higher in elevation compared to Mt. Atago, and as such, the agency did not enter the area as deeply. A mountain ascetic positioned by the agency (Who was given the special position of Sennichitayuu) coexisted with the Tengu, monitoring them and persuading them against influencing the outside. This population began to grow in power during the Muromachi period (1336-1573)​, their leader being a crow Tengu by the name of Iizuna Saburō18. Similar to Mt. Atago, Saburō is enshrined as a deity of war and protector against fire. He was especially revered as a god of war, and famous military commanders such as Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen known as his believers. Also, in Mt. Iizuna there’s many Tengu proficient in chanting magic, with a certain number of practitioners whose goal is to master the dark arts.

The famous spell bearing the name of Iizuna, the “Iizuna-hō”, is a technique that makes the employment of Kudagitsune19 feasible. Saburō’s use of these techniques are said to have been influenced by its comparison with the fox spirit Dakiniten20. This comparison is thought as Saburō’s “incorporation” in order to master the arts. First, the art of using a fox as a possessing spirit is simply convenient. Because the fox is a retainer of Inari, it’s compatible with the spiritual powers of rice paddies and plains. For Tengu who hole up in mountains, this is suitable as it helps them collect information about the outside world. Also, the narrative of “Monster foxes being exorcized and transformed into retainers” might be the reenactment of a Tengu being made to do so. Such a recursive structure strengthens their strength when it comes to chanting magic. Furthermore, the fact that Tengus were once referred to as “Amatsukitsune” creates a nomenclative synergy21. [Own research]

Combining the mastery of these arts and the aforementioned prayers for victory, it is likely that ninjas were the most devout followers of Iizuna Saburō. The information the agency possesses regarding the current affairs of the Tengu of Mt. Iizuna were obtained from the Mujin-Getsudō-Shū in exchange for money22.

Third, Mt. Kurama, Kyoto Prefecture

Mt. Kurama was similarly close to the capital as Mt. Atago, but wasn’t as strongly guarded. The main factor is believed to be that the original inhabitants were less than those at Mt. Atago, as well as the proficiency of Mt. Kurama’s Tengu at mimicking humans, making them appear less threatening. The agency dispatched personnel to the Kurama-dera temple in order to monitor the place, but it was extremely difficult to grasp the situation. It’s broad common sense that the small number of Tengu who prefer to fight live in seclusion. It’s said they appear in front of men with great military potential, Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s anecdote being a great example of this23. Like the Tengu in Mt. Iizuna, they seem to be intertwined with ninjas.

There’s information that an influential individual(Not a clear leader), Sōjōbō, has recently disappeared24.

Fourth, Scouters Mountain, USA

Now, according to the latest news from Mujin-Getsudō-Shū, Sōjōbō has travelled far away towards the United States aboard the Westerlies winds, and is now living near Boring, Oregon, on a mountain range called Scouters Mountain. Following an attack by the Global Occult Coalition, they are receiving support from an organization called Wilson's Wildlife Solutions25. For the time being, I’m relieved to see we didn’t lose a valuable Tengu. I’m not sure if this counts as an “habitat”, but I’ll record it nonetheless. Regarding Tengu and sacred mountains, it is a valuable case study. Wildlife Solutions is also closely tied to the FOundation, so it’s necessary that we monitor this case.

Fifth, Mt. Hiko, Fukuoka/Ōita Prefecture

Located in the prefectural border between Fukuoka and Ōita, many Tengu used to live on this mountain, but their numbers decreased dramatically following the start of the Meiji era. Somehow, they managed to avoid extinction. Tengus who fled from their homes in Kyūshū gathered here, managing to keep their numbers and survive26. The agency used mountain ascetics to monitor Mt. Hiko through a branch temple in Dazaifu. A copper torii gate was built and placed inside the mountain, which was used to separate monks from civilians, and also separated the habitat of the Tengu.

They’re a group of fervent believers27, and served the purpose of messengers to the Gods that resided within the mountain, while at the same time having fervent faith in Ame-no-Oshihomimi28 and Amida Nyorai29. Furthermore, the influx of tengu from many places brought many beliefs, creating a unique system. Because they’re the Tengu population that is the friendliest with the agency, we recommend that, if you go to Kyūshū to document something, you pay a visit to the temple. Five years ago, I went to visit and received a Tengu feather as a souvenir. Although a single feather has less than a tenth of the power of a tengu feather fan, it’s very useful to cool down during summertime30.

Sixth, Mt. Takao, Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Extremely small population, either critically endangered or already extinct. Because of their usual interferences with the outside, they were attacked by the Five Elements Society. Because of their initiative, several of them were incorporated into IJAMEA’s Yōkai Battalion. The last eyewitness report was that a member had been captured by the Foundation. If this is the last surviving individual, then Mt. Takao’s population is extinct. If no information surfaces before the next revision, this section will be reduced to seven habitats.

Seventh, Mt. Asahi and vicinities, Yamagata Prefecture

As this region is under Foundation control, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact location. The Tengu living in this region work for a a golf course. As mentioned before, this area is under Foundation control, and we cannot physically access it. The proprietor of this golf course is a godly company known as TTT. TTT(Trismegistus Translation & Transportation‬) is a company managed by the Greek God Hermēs. Hermēs used to be worshipped in Greece as a protector of travelers, and might have a strong affinity with Tengus, who have a connection with Sarutahiko, a type of protector of travelers. [Own research]

As most presonnel is unable to enter this location, No. 2020 was dispatched to the area. No. 2020, who was asked to enter as a player, was ordered to observe the Tengu and gather information during the breaks of each match. However, upon her return she said things like “hiking is tiring” and “it pissed me off when the monkeys stole my ball” and other such complaints, making her presence unhelpful. When we asked her to visit for a second time, she said she wasn’t interested in golf anymore, so now we’ve been giving her literary work31 on golf to pique her interest.

Regarding the neighboring Yamagata prefecture, there’s reports of Tengu living in the Three Mountains of Dewa. There’s plans to investigate the reasons why the populations fell but the golf course survived.

Eighth, Ongatake, Tōno Yōkai Sanctuary, Iwate Prefecture

One of two mountainous regions inside Tōno Yōkai Sanctuary. There are no Tengu living on the other mountain, Mt. Kakura, probably because of the mountain gods living there. According to the “PR Toyoho”, the ritual race of Mt. Kakura are the Yamauba, mountain witches. It’s said that the god of Mt. Kakura maintains the Samuto-gō, the location of the Sanctuary, but since Tengu and Yamauba live in separate places, it’s believed that a different god resides in Ongatake. [Own research]32

The Tengu living here are a mix of those that originally lived in Ongatake, those who fled from the Yōkai Battalion33, and those who migrated here after the establishment of the sanctuary. There appears to be some friction, but I guess that’s the way things go in the countryside. The nature of the mountain and the nature of Tengu go together in harmony, so they might get used to it when they migrate to the area. [Own research]

This is a bit of a personal story. I used to be afraid of mountains. Because of my grandma’s brother disappearing while working as a research officer in the mountains, my family spread their fear unto me34. And then the Tengu of Mt. Hiko that I visited while on Kyūshū changed that. I was extremely nervous just standing at the base of the mountain, yet he gave me so much helpful advice. According to him, “danger is always real, but fear is not”. He also taught me hiking techniques. Even though I only stayed for two days, I feel like I was born again35.

I want to get to know them better. I will continue to research them (As long as it doesn’t interfere with my actual job)36.


Feather received by the Tengu in Mt. Hiko. When held against light, letters appear37

(Report by Ōeyama Kōtarō)

※ Who added the [Own Research] notes?
※ I did. I recommend that from now on, instead of describing assumptions, you record only that which can be supported by serious practical research. Thankfully, I can grant you the authority. Congratulations, Mr. specially appointed Wild Yōkai Survey Research Officer Ōeyama - Research Officer Isanagi Akane

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