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Depiction of a baku spirit.

Baku are supernatural creatures originating in Japan, which devour dreams and nightmares. According to legend, they were created by the spare pieces that were left over when the gods finished creating all other animals.

The Winchesters had never encountered a baku.

During a flashback in 11.16 Safe House, Bobby Singer and Rufus Turner argue that their current target is a baku and Bobby reveals that they hunted one before together, in Alaska:

Bobby: Damn it, Rufus, why you always have to make everything so freakin' complicated?
Rufus: What's complicated? I'm just saying it's not a ghost, it's a baku.
Bobby: What?
Rufus: A Japanese mons-
Bobby: I know what a baku is, you dumbass. We hunted one together in Alaska.
Rufus: Alright, I'll bet you a bottle of Johnny that it's a baku.
Bobby: Well get ready to buy me a bottle of Johnny, 'cause it ain't a baku, it's a ghost, plain and simple. And the sooner we get to burning bones, the sooner we can get back to figuring out how to save the world! Now come on, we got diggin' to do.

The Baku in Lore

Originally the baku known in Japan has its origins in Chinese folklore. Baku can be summoned as a preventative against nightmares. Baku are typically depicted with an elephant’s trunk, rhinoceros' eyes, an ox's tail and a tiger's paws. Legend has it that a person who wakes up from a bad dream can call out to baku, or baku can be summoned for protection from bad dreams prior to falling asleep. Calling to baku must be done sparingly, because if it remains hungry after eating someone’s nightmare, it may also devour their hopes and desires as well, leaving them to live an empty life.


Baku on Wikipedia