the online database of Japanese folkore



Translation: lesser tengu (“divine dog”)
Alternate names: karasutengu (“crow tengu”)
Habitat: mountains, cliffs, caves, forests, areas surrounded by nature
Diet: carrion, livestock, wild animals, humans

Appearance: Kotengu resemble large birds of prey with human-like characteristics. They often wear the robes of the ascetic and mystical hermits called yamabushi, and sometimes carry fine weapons or other items stolen from human homes or temples.

Behavior: Kotengu behave like savage monsters. They live solitary lives, but on rare occasions band together or with other yōkai to accomplish their goals. They accumulate hoards. Kotengu collect and trade trinkets and valuable magical items. When angered they throw tantrums and go on destructive rampages, taking out their anger on anything near them.

Interactions: Kotengu have little respect for humans. They feast on human flesh, and commit rape, torture, and murder for fun. Some of their favorite games are abducting people to drop them from great heights deep into the woods, or tying children to the tops of trees so all can hear their screams but none can reach them. Kotengu kidnap people and force them eat feces until they go mad. They especially revel in sacrilege. They torment monks and nuns, rob temples, and try to seduce clergy.

Kotengu’s greatest weakness is overconfidence. There are countless folk stories about kotengu being duped into trading powerful magical items or giving up valuable information in exchange for worthless trinkets. Foolish kotengu overestimate their own intelligence when trying to trick humans, and end up being tricked themselves.

Alphabetical list of yōkai