Are there any trickster demons in Japanese mythology, I am aware of the somewhat tricksy Japanese god Susanoo-no-Mikoto, but are there any demons known for tricking people in Japanese mythology?

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    I'm not sure there's any. Kitsune and tanuki are often seen as tricksters but calling them demons would be a bit harsh.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


A lot of my knowledge about them comes from the oral tradition, but the Wiki makes an interesting point that they were originally regarded as demons in the Buddhist context. In the Shinto contexts, they were simply yōkai (妖怪).

Tengu are often thought of as a type of forest goblin, and may be benefactors or adversaries, which is typical of tricksters.

Tengu are known for their long noses and, often, their martial skills, particularly with the sword.

  • @Semaphore Most gods/goddesses are either good or bad. Tricksters occupy a grey area, where they can be either. Often you have tricksters like Prometheus, who is only an adversary to Zeus and only a benefactor to humanity, but is Prometheus good or bad? (He goes against the will of god...) Loki is an example of the trickster who is both benefactor (walls of Asgard, etc.) and nemesis (Ragnarok, etc.) The story of Sif's golden tresses is a great example of mischief leading to benefit—not only her golden headpiece, but the creation of other objects, including Odin's spear, Gungnir.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 21:20
  • @Semaphore I wouldn't say "defining trait", but certainly a fundamental quality of all tricksters. Good tengu/bad tengu would seem to qualify the race in general for trickster status, and they would seem to have that feeling, whether benefactors or nemeses. Consider the "treat or trick" convention: in many stories, the Tengu will bless your efforts if provide them with a tasty tidbit, and cause mischief otherwise.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 22:22
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    Please include some example of these stories in the post, to demonstrate how tengus are tricksters. I think it would be a great improvement to your answer.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 22:26
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    Many of the old koryu sword schools tell of Tengu teaching the first headmasters their craft. Particularly within the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu style (See the sword and the mind). Tengu are often subtle references to the Iga Ninja Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 19:22

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