Welcome to Tengu Times!
In Japanese folklore, Tengu are mountain and forest goblins with both Shinto and Buddhist attributes. They are skilled warriors and mischief makers, especially prone to playing tricks on arrogant and vainglorious priests, and punishing those who willfully misuse knowledge and authority to gain fame or position.
The literal meaning of Tengu is “Heaven 天” and “Dog 狗.” In Chinese mythology, there is a related creature named Tien Kou (Tiangou 天狗), or “celestial hound.” The name is misleading, however, as the crow-like Tengu (or a winged warrior with long handsome nose) looks nothing like a dog.
But that’s not all!
“Tengu” was a screen-name before there were even screens. As far back as the Tokogawa Shoganates, letters, memos, posters and other amusing tidbits bearing the 天狗 signature were the bane of Imperial bureaucrats and other persons in authority. They poked fun at pompous rulers, jeered at stupid government policies, scoffed at the “virtues” of the pious, laughed at the amusing news of the day… and generally helped the working stiffs and little people keep their sanity by annoying the bejeezus out of people.
Let’s see if we can continue the tradition!