Photo Friday: Face / Tengu

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Tengu

Photo Friday Challenge: Face

Tengu 天狗 are mountain and forest goblins in Japanese folklore, and are associated with both Shintoism and Buddhism. They have supernatural powers like shape-shifting into humans or animals, moving instantly from place to place without using their wings, and the ability to appear uninvited in human dreams.

Although the name comes from Chinese Tiangou and the kanji are heaven (天) and dog (狗), the Japanese version is closer to the form of a crow. The Tengu is the patron of martial arts and is said to play tricks on arrogant and vain Buddhist priests or samurai, and to punish those who gain fame or status by deceit. The long nose of the Tengu is related to hatred of arrogance and prejudice. Priests who are vain or deceitful become long-nosed Yamabushi Tengu after their death. These Tengu are the ones who look more human-like, rather than crow-like.

This Tengu was snapped while I was transfering trains in Tokyo at Takaosan-guchi Station on the Keio Takao Line. This is the nearest station to Mt. Takao in Hachioji. This face made a big impression on me, as the size of it is huge (see the train to the right for scale) and I saw them everywhere in Tokyo – even in Asakusa.

What does the theme Face mean to you? Do you know of any distinctive folklore faces from your home country?

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