Lords of the Ninja: Tengu

At the end of 3×15 ‘Galvanize’ the lights go out and Isaac is surrounded by some figures; who or what are they?

To explain what I think they are – I actually have to start with the image from the bestiary. The one that popped up, on the computer screen, when Isaac and Allison were doing their research.

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t random or by accident. Raawr


Due to the research I have done on the Bardo I think I might have figured out what the picture is of.

It is a Tengu (see below an example of a Tengu Noh mask very similar right???).

Most of the following information was taking from ‘The Complete Idiots Guide to World Mythology’. hahaha *chokes*

Tengu are demons who are said to have conveyed the art of death to the legendary Ninja warriors of Japan.

They are also considered to be of the most powerful creatures of Japanese mythology and can further be divided into three main types that differ in appearance but not much in ability and powers.

  1. Yamabashui Tengu (Monk Tengu) – looks like a Monk until it wants you to see it otherwise
  2. Konoha Tengu (Leaf Tengu) – looks like a man but with a red face, long nose and wings.
  3. Karasu Tengu (Crow Tengu) – bird like in appearance, beaks instead of mouths, wings.

Tengu have a number of powers: the ability to take on almost any shape whether it’s human, animal or plant; they are also able to communicate with humans (and with each other) without speaking as if using a form of telepathy.

They also have the ability to move instantly from one spot to another with something akin to teleportation. Their wings (tell me if I’m crazy but I think I can hear the flapping of wings in the promo/sneak peek) can also be hidden and they can make themselves invisible.


Their powers aren’t restricted to the waking world either they are said to also have the ability to enter ones dreams and manipulate them whether you want them to or not.

The Warrior Tengu
Of the three Tengu demon types, the one most commonly told about in Japanese mythology is the Karasu Tengu. This is likely due to the fact that, of the three, the Karasu-type Tengu are the most skilled warriors. As a matter of fact, Karasu Tengu are considered the patron spirits of Japanese martial arts and are said to enjoy practising Bushido which is ‘The Way of the Warror’.

This is interesting because the things that we saw at the end of 3×15 ‘Galvanise’ and also in the promo for 3×16 ‘Illuminated’ appear to be dressed in traditional(?) samurai garb.


As a warrior spirit of sorts the role of the Karasu Tengu is supposedly somewhat similar to that of the Furies of Greek Mythology in that the carry out violent justice upon the wicked, especially those who misuse or abuse power and/or knowledge. Also they aren’t automatically evil themselves –  they have the capacity for good and evil just like humans. 

Allison: They could have killed him.
Chris: But they didn’t and I think it was for a reason.

Hold up Furies? Greek Mythology? Haven’t we been down this path already with the Kanima??And the Kanima’s Alpha form has wingssss. I am a strong believer that they haven’t been referring to Greek Mythology at random in Teen Wolf and that it has to be for a reason. (I might be a naive gullible gook tbh).

Examples of references to Greek Mythology this season include:

Peter: Only this isn’t a snake its a Hydra. Do you know what happened when Hercules cut off the head of the Hydra?
Scott: Two more grew back in it’s place. [3×05]

Stiles: If it turns out to be something like triplets that forms into a like three headed hound from hell… [3×14]

What do both these references have in common? Both the Hydra and Cerberus are guardians of entrances/exits to the underworld (Hades), in fact they are siblings.

If nothing else maybe Teen Wolf is trying to subliminally insert the idea of guardians of another ‘realm’ into our minds. Even if that isn’t what the Tengu are. I definitely think that the Nemeton is a gateway to other worlds though (hell).

Now to slightly change tracks (I promise this will all tie up in the end) in 3×15 ‘Galvanize’ Allison and Isaac were trying to discover what the flies in Barrow’s chest meant. Allison found a “reference about flies being able to carry messages to the dead” and Isaac mentioned “Beelzebub the Lord of the Flies”.

This might be neither here nor there and mostly conjecture but I have discovered that in Japan fireflies (a species of fly) are considered to be the souls of the dead. Which would then indicate that Beelzebub is actually Lord of the dead. [1]

Now I found this hella interesting because I decided (I don’t know why I’m a sadist) to read the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol) to learn more about Bardo (you can read my sort of analysis of it over here if you haven’t already. It’s pretty cool I think it contains a lot of the stuff that is happening to our characters at the moment).

One of the things mentioned in the Bardo Thodol is the Lord of Death.

I shall quote now :)
(page 38)

” Then [one of the Executive Furies of] the Lord of Death will place round thy neck a rope and drag thee along; he will cut off thy head, extract thy heart, pull out thy intestines, lick up thy brain, drink thy blood, eat thy flesh, and gnaw thy bones; but thou wilt be incapable of dying. Although thy body be hacked to pieces, it will revive again. The repeated hacking will cause intense pain and torture.”

Could this be referring to the Tengu?

And interestingly enough in my research I did find one reference that said that human souls after death (and also while living) could turn into Tengu.

My question at this point is whether the things surrounding Isaac are Tengu or people possessed by the spirit of the Tengu i.e. demonic Ninjas. If this doesn’t get you excited you are doing it wrong!!! DEMON NINJA’S!!!! OK! (I’m sorry I have an Edo period samurai fetish blame manga).

Or perhaps they are in fact the shadow people that formed out of the fireflies at the end of 3×14 ‘More Bad Than Good’. Isaac does mention in the promo that there were five of them and we only saw three shadow people form but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t more that we just didn’t see. Though referring to the numbers seems kind of specific….five elements??

Now the things (whether they are Tengu or not) are wearing Shikami Noh* masks; this is the mask used to depict demons. I believe Tengu masks are a type of Shikami mask as the Tengu is a demon. The difference in a Shikami and Tengu mask is that usually the Tengu has a long extended nose. During my research I did come across the masks sometimes referred to as ‘Shikami Tengu‘.

[*Noh is a form of classical Japanese musical theatre the art of which is inherited and passed on within a family. It has crossed my mind that this could be what Kira’s mothers family did?? ]

However the masks are usually always red not black for demons..

Teen Wolf (Season 3- Part 2) - Trailer.mp40000

There is a long history of the colour red in Japanese Mythology and the red faced Tengu is sometimes said to be the King of the Tengu Sojobo.

So why are these masks black? My first guess is to indicate that they are evil? To indicate darkness?

The Japanese character for black (kuro), can, depending upon the context, also mean dark or evil. In Japan, black is associated with mystery, the night, the unknown, the supernatural, the invisible and death. [1]

Basically I have no real idea what it means and I am guessing…but it will probably be something specific to Teen Wolf’s mythology.


  1. After doing a ‘bit’ of reading I found that sometimes Oni and Tengu are considered to essentially be the same thing. If they were plants they’d belong to the same genus or whatnot. I have previously written a post about the Oni here.
  2. Are the Tengu (or whatevers) after Danny? Is Danny actually not a good guy?? O_o
  3. The Tengu live in trees so point in favour of them being the fireflies/shadows then??
  4. The Tengu were supposedly created by the fury of the storm god Susanowo so also have the power to create storms. There has been an emphasis on storms in Season 3. [1]
  5. Kitsune and Tengu are actually kind of similar they are both nature trickster spirits but the Tengu are basically meaner.
  6. Apparently Tengu like to drink sake but hate drunks. SO THAT IS WHY THEY CRASHED THE PARTY!!!

I’m just going to stop now for reasons.