Area(s) Reported: Asia: JapanDate(s) Reported: Timeless The baku of Japan are a rare sort of monster that actually benefits those humans they haunt; this is because they are believed to eat bad dreams! According to ancient Shinto beliefs, all bad things that humans think, do, and have happen to them ― diseases, accidents, evil urges, etc.
Monsters Here & There
Monsters H&T: The Baku
First really introduced to English speakers in Lafcadio Hearn's 1902 book Kotto, where Hearn revealed these beasts eat nightmares, the Baku of Japan have been called the 'Eater of Dreams' in books about Japanese monsters and folklore ever since. But in 2003, when I was wandering through shrines and temples in Kyoto and on Sado Island, I noticed something that wasn't normally mentioned... right up in the woodwork of the roofs and gates of many of these sacred structures, right next to other guardian creatures such as Tigers and Ryuu (Japanese 'dragons'), I ran across a number of Baku carved into them and generally painted blue. It would seem to indicate that the Baku of old didn't just eat bad dreams... since bad dreams were believed to be caused by bad spirits, it's likely that Baku eat those. Makes this critter even more useful!
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