Kurama Tengu (鞍馬天狗) are the most powerful and well-known of the Japanese Tengu who were said to live in Mt. Kurama in Kyoto. The Kurama-Tengu are not only said to be exceptional warriors, but also have the ability to fend off disease and bring good luck.
The king of the tengu, Sōjōbō (僧正坊), is one of the Kurama Tengu, and in the 12th century was said to have taught Ushiwakamaru, the future famous warrior Minamoto No Yoshitsune, the arts of swordsmanship, tactics and magic.
Kurama can be only obtained by evolving its predecessor Karasu and is one of the few demons in the game that can only be created via secondary evolution. Even though Karasu can only be created by evolving a Koppa, Karasu can be encountered in normal battles and persuaded to join. Therefore, it isn't necessary to begin with a Koppa to ultimately obtain a Kurama, but some of Koppa's skills will be missed if that step is skipped.
Kurama Tengu can only be acquired through fusion, though variations appear in Shibuya's Celu Tower gold level instance. In the Mount Kurama instance accessed through Nakano, he is a central NPC and final boss for all levels. By gathering cords from the endchest, players are able to fuse a more powerful Kurama Tengu that learns a unique almighty spin move.
"A type of tengu said to have lived in Mt. Kurama in Kyoto. The most powerful and well-known of the tengu, they have the power to fend off disease and bring good fortune."
—Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey compendium
Kurama Tengu regularly appear through Enemy Search in Sector Delphinus. However, his fusion requirements can be unlocked relatively early in the game, being a special fusion between Koppa Tengu and Karasu Tengu.
Kurama Tengu can be found within the Tennozu Shelter. He can teach the Mazanma, Mahama, Trafuri and Zandyne skills through his Demon Whisper. Kurama Tengu benefits from learning Force and Light skills.
"A type of tengu said to have lived in Mt. Kurama in Kyoto. As the most powerful and well-known of the tengu, they have the power to fend off disease and bring good fortune. Also rumored to be the incarnation of Bishamonten."
According to Kazuma Kaneko's Work III, Kurama Tengu's design was influenced by the namesake media franchise Kurama Tengu by Jiro Osaragi (大佛 次郎) with its original novel premiered in 1924, in particular the 1928 movie adaptation starring Kanjuro Arashi (嵐 寛寿郎). The protagonist who is a loyalist-activist assumes the "Kurama Tengu" persona to carry out his vigilante missions. This explains why Kaneko's Kurama Tengu lacks the symbolic elongated nose as the famous statue erected in Mount Kurama, Kyoto.
Although Kurama Tengu's design has several elements of a yamabushi (山伏, "mountain hermit") which is said to be the basis of the mythical Tengu, his tokin (頭襟), a small cylindrical box with a slight pointy top, worn on the forehead resembles the Jewish tefillin much more for its cubic shape. This deviation is believed to be an intent to infuse the Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory, despite lacking official clarification.
In the debug mode of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, there are two leftover beta cutscenes featuring the Demi-fiend, Chikatilo (ティカティロ?) and Izuna (イヅナ?) with the latter two using the models of Incubus and Kurama Tengu respectively. Izuna's mannerism is reminiscent of the Chaos Hero for his ruthlessness. On a side note, Izuna using a Tengu model is probably based on Izuna Gongen (飯縄権現), a Japanese folk god of amalgamation who takes the form of a Karasu Tengu while riding on a white kitsune/fox.
Kurama Tengu's 3D model differ between Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal with the latter incarnation features fewer facial details, resulting a younger looking Kurama Tengu.