The Baku are the eaters of bad dreams. People may pray to them at night so that the Baku may come and suck their nightmares away.
According to legend, the Baku—with the body of a bear, a lion’s paws and ox’s tail, and the trunk of an elephant—was made up of bits that were left over when the gods had finished creating all the other animals.
In Japan, if one wakes up from a nightmare, the words “Baku-san, come eat my dream”, must be repeated three times to bring the Baku. Then the Baku will come into one’s room and devour the bad dream. However, summoning the Baku must be done sparingly, because if he is still hungry after eating one’s nightmare, he may also devour a person’s hopes and desires as well, leaving them to live an empty life.
To this day, it remains common for Japanese children to keep a Baku talisman at their bedside.