You've probably seen a little green monster with a tortoiseshell on its back and kind of looks like a frog in anime or anything else related to Japan. This monster, which today usually appears as a friendly creature, is the “Kappa”, one of the most famous youkai in japan! But what exactly is he? What he does?
Kappa (河童) live in water, inhabit rivers, lakes and swamps, hence their weird appearance. It blends characteristics of various aquatic animals. Because it is known throughout Japan, descriptions of the Kappa vary widely, but generally speaking, it is said to have slimy, green, scaly skin, to have the features of a frog or ape, to have a carapace of turtle on its back and, most importantly, a hole in the top of its head that is always filled with water, which gives it its strength.
They are very strong! Several stories tell how they manage to drag horses and other animals into the water, including people! Why would they do this? To suck his victim's organs through his anus!
What are the Kappa like?
They are not always such horrible creatures. Many stories tell how happy and honest they can be. They love to compete in sumo wrestling with whoever is passing by and to win a Kappa, the challenged only needs to bow before the creature that, being very respectful, will bow too. The water accumulated in the hole of his head is his reserve of energy, when it spills he is defeated!
Plus, they love certain types of vegetables like melons, eggplants, and especially cucumbers! In some places, children are warned not to swim after eating cucumbers, as this can attract the creature. It is also common to offer cucumbers in places dedicated to the Kappa to please them, as they can favor irrigation and agriculture.
Apart from sumo and cucumbers, the Kappa are also very interested in medicine. Several legends tell how a family of doctors famous came to be successful thanks to his teachings.
Despite having this very varied and even scary past (let's not forget the stories in which they drown people and animals!), the Kappa have always been good and bad creatures at the same time. Today, however, the good side of the Kappa seems to be the most influential in Japanese media, and the creature is now even used as a cute mascot for publicity related to preserving the environment. Kappa has certainly gone through several transformations since its time as a slimy sumo and cucumber-loving creature!
Curiosities and references
Finally, let's see some curiosities and references involving this youkai:
- They may also be known as Gataro (川太郎) or Kawako (川子);
- Sushi stuffed with cucumber is now called Kappa Maki;
- In Naruto the three-tailed bijuu – Isobu – is similar to a kappa;
- A Kappa is found in a lake from the famous game Harvest Moon;
- Sagomon and Shawjamon are Digimon inspired by this youkai;
- Psyduck, Lombre, and Golduck are also inspired Pokémon;
- Super Mario's Koppas were also inspired by this youkai;