baku: The Eater of Nightmares

Don't leave this spirit hungry, you will be left a hollow shell.
Even in the strange pantheon of Japanese mythological creatures, the baku stands out. It has the trunk of an elephant, the body of a bear, the feet of a tiger, the tail of an ox, and the eyes of a rhinoceros. According to legend, after the gods had finished creating all the animals, they took the leftover bits and pieces and used them to fashion the baku.
Despite its monstrous appearance, the baku is considered a protective spirit. It is known for its ability to eat nightmares. After having a bad dream, if you say “Baku-san, come and eat my dream” three times, the baku will come and eat your nightmare, allowing you to go back to sleep in peace. However, this must not be done frivolously as, if the baku is still hungry after consuming the nightmare, it will go on to eat your hopes and ambitions as well. You will be left a hollow shell of  a person.
Due to the baku’s power over nightmares, it is common for Japanese children to have a representation of it near their beds. In recent years, it has become more common for the baku to resemble a tapir (an actual animal with an uncanny resemblance to the legendary spirit) and look less like the mythological chimera. The pokemon Drowzee is based on the baku, and shares his appetite for dreams.
So the next time you watch too many horror movies and have a nightmare, you can call upon the baku to come eat it. Just better hope your dream is enough to fill up the baku, you don’t want to leave him hungry.
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