TRANSLATION: winged dog
HABITAT: forests, plains, and mountains, including human inhabited areas
APPEARANCE: Hainu are winged dogs. They are strong, fast, and ferocious, and can be as menacing to humans as wolves. On the other hand, tamed hainu can also be loyal, loving pets.
ORIGIN: The hainu legend comes from Chikugo, Fukuoka. It is supposedly buried in a grave at Sōgaku Temple. It is the namesake of the neighborhood where it is located, Hainuzuka (“hainu burial mound”). A stone monument at the temple and a number of bronze statues displayed throughout the city memorialize this local legend. The hainu was even selected as the Chikugo City’s official mascot.
LEGENDS: There are two common versions of the hainu legend—one featuring a good hainu, the other an evil hainu. Both of them take place in the spring of 1587, when the armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Kyūshū with the goal of unifying Japan.
The evil legend tells that long ago, a winged dog appeared in Chikugo Province. It was incredibly ferocious. It attacked travelers, slaughtered livestock, and came to be greatly feared by the locals. While passing through the area, Hideyoshi’s way was blocked by the hainu. It took a great effort by Hideyoshi and his army to subdue the beast, but finally it was slain. Hideyoshi was so impressed by its cleverness and ferocity that he had the monster buried and erected a mound in its honor.
The good legend tells that when Hideyoshi was on his campaign, he was accompanied by a fabulous winged dog. The hainu flew around in the sky as it followed its master. Hideyoshi adored the hainu. Sadly, while passing through Chikugo the animal fell sick and died. Hideyoshi was overcome with grief. His retainers saw their general’s sadness and couldn’t stand idly by, so they built a burial mound for the hainu and interred it there.