CULTURE
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KARASU TENGU: SENTINEL OF DAISEN

Say hello to our not-so-little friend

By Benny Shouga 04/16/2016

Mt. Daisen in Tottori Prefecture lays many claims to fame in the region, but none has inspired more myths and folk stories than that of the legendary karasu tengu. Said to be part human, part crow, often giant in size, these supernatural beings inhabited the sacred slopes and peaks of Mt. Daisen, at that time off limits to all but monks and religious ascetics.

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4 A statue over 30 feet tall at Niodo Park in Daisen honors its giant warrior   (Photography by Shiho Oshita)

These beings were believed to be intermediaries, go-betweens of the human and spirit worlds. In addition to their inter-dimensional powers, they were masters of all human martial arts who delighted in combat. Some speculate their legend was invented by the hermits who inhabited the mountain, in hopes it would scare away trespassers. Others posit that the supposed tengu were actually the strange ascetics who wandered the mountain themselves. Regardless, tales of these fearsome goblins resonated with anyone traveling the shadowy mountain roads after dark.

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(Photography by Shiho Oshita)

Today, a giant karasu tengu statue stands in Daisen Town, near Hira village. Rising high above the surrounding fields, it stands as a reminder of Mt. Daisen’s sacred past, and the guardians who protected its snowy secrets. We at KARASU hope to celebrate its power as a symbol of our special corner of Japan.

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(credit: Photography by Shiho Oshita)

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