Kappa youkai, sumo and cucumbers!

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You have probably seen a green monster with a turtle shell on its back and a bit like a frog in anime or anything else related to Japan. This monster, which today appears as a friendly creature, is the “Kappa”, one of the Japan's most famous youkai! But what exactly is it? What he does?

The Kappa (河童) live in the water inhabiting rivers, lakes and swamps for their strange appearance. It mixes characteristics of various aquatic animals. Because it is known throughout Japan, Kappa descriptions vary widely, but in general they say that it has slimy, green, scaly skin, that has the features of a frog or monkey, that has a carapace of turtle in the back and, most importantly, a hole in the top of the head 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 that? To suck your victim's organs through her anus!


How are the Kappa?

They are not always such horrible creatures. Many stories tell how cheerful and honest they can be. They love to compete in sumo fights with anyone who is passing by and to win a Kappa, the challenged only needs to bow before the creature who, being very respectful, will also bow. The water accumulated in the hole in your head is your energy reserve, when it spills it is defeated!


In addition, they love some types of vegetables, such as melons, eggplants and, in particular, cucumbers! In some places, children are advised not to swim after eating cucumbers, as this may attract the creature. It is also common to offer cucumbers in places dedicated to Kappa to please them, as they can favor irrigation and agriculture.

Apart from sumo and cucumbers, Kappa are also very interested in medicine. Several legends count as a family of doctors famous became successful thanks to his teachings.


Despite having a very varied and even frightening 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 Kappa seems to be the most influential in Japanese media, and the creature is now even used as a cute mascot by advertising related to environmental preservation. Kappa has certainly undergone several transformations since its time as a slimy creature who loves sumo and cucumbers!

Curiosities and references

Finally, let's see some curiosities and references involving this youkai:

  • They may also be known as de 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 in the famous game Harvest Moon;
  • Sagomon and Shawjamon are Digimon inspired by this youkai;
  • Psyduck, Lombre and Golduck are also inspired Pokémon;
  • Super Mario Koppas were also inspired by this youkai;