Above Togura Station (on the local Shinano Railroad line, approx. 25 min. from Nagano Station), is Togurajuku Kitty Park. The locals call it Tengu Koen (park), because of the huge Tengu statue at the top. (For those of you who don’t know, a Tengu is a mythological goblin with supernatural powers.)
Last night I took some guests up to the Tengu Park above Togura Station, right at sunset. The soft light of the setting sun created a surreal scene of the Chikuma River and the surrounding mountains — it was strikingly beautiful. The huge Tengu statue was even more impressive than normal lit up by the setting sun.
One of the guests asked why the Tengu is holding a leaf. I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know. I did some research when I got back, and found out the Tengu uses the leaf to control the wind. Apparently they can create hurricanes with it.
There’s a really good description about Tengu on the Obakemono Project website. I was surprised to learn just how complex the mystical legends are about the Tengu. Besides the supernatural power to control the wind, I was fascinated to learn that the evolution of the Tengu is related to the conflict between Buddhism that was imported from China and Japan’s domestic, animistic Shinto religion. There’s also an interesting explanation on the background to the pom-pom’s on his coat, as well as mention that it was the Tengu that taught the ninjas their art. Maybe Togura’s Tengu was the one who taught the Togakure ninjas of Togakushi Mountain above Nagano City.
Now I’ll have much more appreciation of our Tengu the next time I see him above Togura Station!