BAKU are Japanese supernatural beings that devour bad dreams and nightmares. Baku also protects against pestilence and evil. Baku images and talismans are also frequently placed under one’s pillow to ward off bad dreams and ill omens.
They have a long history in Japanese folklore and art.
While the baku is a spiritual being, it has a well-defined appearance. It takes on the form of a chimera – a mythological beast comprised of a variety of parts from other animals. The baku is typically depicted with a bear’s body, an elephant’s nose, a tiger’s feet, an oxen tail, and rhinoceros eyes. According to legend, the baku was created by the spare pieces that were left over when the gods finished creating all other animals.
Legend has it, that a person who wakes up from a bad dream can call out to baku. A child having a nightmare in Japan will wake up and repeat three times “Baku-san, come eat my dream. Baku-san, come eat my dream. Baku-san, come eat my dream.” Legends say that the baku will come into the child’s room and devour the bad dream, allowing the child to go back to sleep peacefully.
To this day, it remains common for Japanese children to keep a baku talisman at their bedside.