The Baku is a chimeric spirit brought to Japan from China. Early myths have it that the Baku was formed from an assortment of animals, giving it features borrowed from tigers, oxen, and elephants. The early Baku was a protector against pestilence and other evils. In later tales, the Baku gained the ability to eat dreams. A human plagued by nightmares can call to the Baku and entreat them to eat the offending vision. But beware: while the Baku can and will come to a human’s aid and devour a dark dream, if it is summoned too frequently or needlessly, it may not stop its meal at the nightmare alone. A hungry or offended Baku can go on to devour good dreams and hopes as well, leaving its victim an empty shell.
In modern Japanese, it has loaned its name to the similarly strange tapir. Fans of video games may also recognize it as the inspiration behind a certain dream-eating Pokemon.