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Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Taiba (The End), 1852. The print depicts a nue descending upon the Imperial palace in a black cloud

A nue (鵺) is a chimera-like creature found in Japanese folklore.


Etymology

Nue as a word appears in the oldest of Japanese literature. Early quotes include Kojiki (712) and Wamyo Ruijusho (c. 934). Due to the usage of Man'yogana, the historical spelling is known to have been nuye. At this early time, though, it had a different semantic meaning. It referred to a bird known as White's Thrush.


Appearance

Nue usually described as having the head of a monkey, the body of a racoon dog, the limbs of a tiger, and a snake tail. According to the legend, a nue can transform into a black cloud and fly.


Myth

According to The Tale of the Heike, Emperor Konoe, the Emperor of Japan, became sick after having terrible nightmares every night, and a dark cloud appeared at two o'clock in the morning on roof of the palace in Kyoto during the summer of 1153. The story says that the samurai Minamoto no Yorimasa staked-out the roof one night and fired an arrow into the cloud, out of which fell a dead nue. Yorimasu then supposedly sank the body in the Sea of Japan.

In a local expansion of the story, the nue's corpse floated into a certain bay, and the locals, fearing a curse, buried it. A mound which exists today is supposed to be this grave.


History

In the 13th century, Heike Monogatari makes reference to a creature called a nue. In addition to having the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, the paws of a tiger, and the tail of a snake, it has the voice of a White's Thrush.

Hayata Hironao grappling with the_monstrous nue

Around 1435, Zeami wrote a Noh song titled Nue dealing with the events described in Heike.

Art/Fiction

  • The Japanese band Kagrra, has an album titled Nue, containing the track "Nue no Naku Koro" (When the Nue Cries).
  • The avex artist Tomiko Van has a song called "Nue no Naku Yoru" (The Night when the Nue Cries)
  • A Nue appears in many of the games in the Megami Tensei series, as a potential fight opponent.
  • A Nue appears at the gate to the King of All Night's Dreaming's castle in Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano's Sandman: The Dream Hunters.
  • Zabimaru, the zanpakuto of Renji Abarai in the manga/anime series Bleach, manifests itself as a nue.
  • One of the monsters a player fights in the PlayStation 2 game Genji: Dawn of the Samurai is a Nue.
  • In the Japanese version of the game Blood Will Tell, Kagemitsu Daigo transforms into a Nue during one of the final battles. However, in the English version, the monster is a chimera.
  • In the game Breath of Fire III, the first boss is a Nue, which kills villagers to feed its young.
  • Nue is the name of a mikura, a yokai turned blood-drinking machine, in the anime/CG 6-part OVA Karas
  • A character in the danmaku shooter series Touhou Project is name Nue Houjuu, and is based on this creature.

Sources

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.