In Japanese legend, a Baku is a dream-eater—a spirit animal that visits homes in the middle of the night anddevours the nightmaresof people who are sleeping. It’s usually described as a tapir, sort of pig-shaped with a long snout. In the realm of dream spirits, the Baku is a benevolent spirit who protects people from the terrors of bad dreams.
The story of the Baku actually began in China, but was taken to Japan in the 14th century. From there, the description of the beast changed over time. By the 17th century, the physical form of the Baku had become a chimera—it had the legs of a tiger, the head of an elephant, and the piercing eyes of a rhinoceros. Its name changed to Mo, and the belief arose that in order for it to protect you, you had to draw asketch of the beastbefore you fell asleep.