“Tengu’s Deception” is chapter 10 of Ronin Yoshino manga. Its based on classic Japanese folklore about the mischievous Tengu. The comical side story revolves around the character Kagekiri who gets tricked by tengu. This is one of my favorite manga chapters.
I was inspired from a folktale called “Japan Means Trouble!”…
One tengu hides behind a tree while the other took the form of an elderly man who asks for Kagekiri’s help to cross the river. Little does he know what the tengu are planning!
Japan Means Trouble!
A long time ago, a powerful Chinese tengu named Chirayoju visited Japan to meet one of the local tengu. He boasted-”In my country, they’re many tough warrior monks, but now that I’ve got them all eating out of my hand I thought I’d have a look at Japan. They say there’s some strong ascetics here. Perhaps I’ll see what I can do to them! What do you think?”
The Japanese tengu approved. “I’ve got all the brave monks of this country eating out of my hand too, but if you want to trouble them, go ahead! I know of one. Come on.“
Off they went as they flew up to the stone tower on Hiei-yama and stood beside the trail.
“People know me here, so I’ll hide down the hill. Go turn into an old monk and take care of anybody that comes by!”
As they Japanese tengu hid in the brush and watched Chirayoju who had transformed into a perfect, bent up old monk. The gleam of his eye looked like he was planing something good, and the Japanese tengu anxiously awaited his scheme.
Along came a palanquin and inside it rode Yokyo, a monk with rank and reputation was on his way to the capital. When they reached the tower, the Japanese tengu looked up and Chirayoju was gone! The monk passed by in peace. The puzzled tengu went looking for his colleague and found him cowering in the ravine with his butt in the air.
“Why are you hiding?!” Asked the Japanese tengu.
“Who was that went by?”
“That was Yokyo, a famous monk. He’s on his way to the castle for a special rite. He’s so holy I thought you’d scare him up, but you let him go. Too bad…”
“Right, I noticed he was very holy. Well, it’s fine, I was going to have at him once he left…but a column of flames rose from his palanquin! I’d get burned if I got close! So, I thought it’d be best to pass this one…”
The Japanese tengu laughed mockingly. “You fly all the way from China, and you can’t roll a fellow like that a few times? You let him go? You’re pathetic! Next time, stop the next human and do something!”
“Absolutely! Just watch!” He went to go wait by the tower again and the Japanese tengu crouched in the brush.
A noisy group came, it was Jinzen going to town with acolytes running ahead of his palanquin clearing the way. When the acolytes met the monk, they herded him off by whacking him with their sticks. The old monk covered his head and ran off.
The Japanese tengu ran after him and ridiculed him again. Chirayoju protested, “With all due respect, you don’t know what you’re saying! Those acolytes would have cracked my skull! Yes, I let the monk by, I can fly from China in a flash, but those acolytes were too fast!”
“Well, do something to the next one at least! You can travel this far and do nothing! You’d be an embarrassment to your country!” Off they went to try again.
Voices were heard in the distance. A red-clothed monk appeared, clearing the way and behind him were young monks carrying a ceremonial chest containing illustrious traveler’s monk robes. The palanquin behind them carried Jie of Yokawa, the abbot of the temple complex of the mountain.
“Will they get past him?” wondered the Japanese tengu, but the old monk was gone and hidden again!
“I noticed a suspicious looking fellow, lets spread out and look!” said one of the boys. They fiercely dispersed around the path, brandishing sticks ans the Japanese tengu quickly hid further down the slope into a deeper brush.
“Here he is! Get him!” shouted the boys.
“What?! There’s an old monk hiding here! He looks suspicious. Hold him! Don’t let him get away!” as the boys got a hold of Chirayoju.
“How awful!” said the Japanese tengu, but he was too frightened to do anything but hide deeper in the brush. Peering fearfully out, he saw a dozen boys drag Chirayoju to the tower, beat and kick him. “Who are you, old monk?” the boys shouted as they whacked him. “Tell us! Tell us!”
“I’m just a poor tengu from China! I thought I’d have a look at the monks, but the first Yokyo who was reciting the fire mantra; then there was Jinzen who was reciting the mantra of Fudo so that Fudo’s minions guarded him with iron staffs; and the abbot was pondering perfect meditation. The first two frightened me, but this one didn’t but I got careless and was caught!”
The boys let him go, after they kicked him around. Once the abbot left, the Japanese tengu crawled up from his hiding place to see how Chirayoju was doing, as he asked if he got the abbot.
Chirayoju was irritated that the Japanese tengu didn’t give him any advice. “You put me against men like living Buddha’s, and all I’ve got for my trouble is a good beating!” As Chirayoju burst into tears.
The Japanese tengu replied, “You see, you’re a tengu from a great country…I thought that you can take care of anyone from my little country. I’m sorry you got beaten!” He took the Chinese tengu to the hot springs, then packed him back to China. Later on, the Japanese tengu possessed someone and told the story.