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The hōkō as imagined by Toriyama Sekien.

The Pénghoú (彭侯) is a tree spirit from Chinese folklore also known as Hōkō in Japan.


The Pénghoú is described in an old book called the Soushenji (搜神記, English "In Search of the Supernatural"):

The P'eng-hou in the Camphor Tree

In the time of the First Ruler of Wu, Lu Ching-shu was Grand Protector of Chien-an Commandery. Once he dispatched a man to cut down a great camphor tree. Few strokes of the axe had fallen before blood suddenly flowed from the trunk. When it was finally felled, a creature with the face of a man and the body of a dog came forth.

Ching-shu explained,
"This is what is known as the p'eng-hou." He had it steamed forthwith and ate it. Its flavor was the same as :dog-meat.
The Pai-tse T'u* says: "The spirit of trees is called p'eng-hou. It appears much like a black dog with no tail and :can be steamed and eaten.

The Pénghoú (read in Japanese as Hōkō) was included in the Konjaku Hyakki Shūi, one of Toriyama Sekien's collections of monster illustrations. Sekien gave it the same description as the Soushenji, as well as having it live in a thousand-year-old tree.


References

  • Gan, Bao; Kenneth J. DeWoskin and J. I. Crump, Jr., translators. (1996). In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record. Stanford University Press, p. 215. ISBN 0-8047-2506-3.


Sources

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