This fully illustrated volume, including an eight-page colour-plate section, is the first in-depth study in English to examine the warrior and shamanic characteristics and significance of tengu in the martial art culture (bugei) of Muromachi Japan (1336-1573).
According to Roald Knutsen, who is widely known for his writings on the samurai tradition, prompting his life-long study of tengu – the part-human, part-animal creatures – was the early discovery that the tengu of the Muromachi period were interacting with the deadly serious bugei masters teaching the arts of war. Here were beings who did not conform to the comic, goblin-like creatures of common folklore and were not the creations of the Buddhist priests intent on demonizing that which they did not understand and could not control.
As this study shows, the part-hidden tengu under review passed on and taught the clearest theory of tactics and strategy to bushi of the highest calibre, the absorption and mastery of which often decided if the warrior and his clan lived or were annihilated on the all-too-frequent killing grounds of the Muromachi age.
Tengu will be widely welcomed in many contexts including studies relating to martial arts, religion and folklore, shamanism and mythology, and the social and military history of Japan.