Legends
Magic

Tengu

Main Piece: “My mom use to tell me a story about a Japanese legend. Back in the day there lived an old woman in a village at the foot of Mount Takao in Japan. She would always cook up food like traditional Japanese food like rice and bamboo shoots for the Tengu, (which are magical looking creatures, to eat). One day, the old woman was super sick so her son became worried and went to get water from some hot spring far away. However, he was clumsy so he tripped just before reaching home and spilled all the water. He was pretty disappointed and thought his mom would get mad at him, but then he noticed water springing up from the ground so he gathered it for his mom. When the old woman bathed in this water, she became healthy again. Everyone in the village said it must have been the Tengu who caused water to spring up as a way of saying thank you to the woman for all the meals she cooked for them.”

Background Information: The informant describes Tengu as a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai ( supernatural beings). The tengu were  thought to take the forms of bird like creatures. The informat learned this story through his grandparents who live in Japan, and he says that this is one of the most classic and well known stories that involve supernatural beings. He also said this story made him less scared of ghosts when he was a kid because in the story the Tengu help heal the woman.

Context: At a restuarant in downtown LA

Thoughts: This story contains magical elements, will the special healing water which reminds me a little bit of the water of immortality. This story also demonstrates the importance of good deeds, and that you should treat others the way you would want them to treat you (the woman making food for the Tengu and the Tengu healing the woman). This story also contains important aspects of Japanese culture, like food (rice and bamboo shoots). After talking to the informant, he said that his grandmother makes rice and bamboo shoots for him when he is not feeling well.

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