The Japanese "kappa" (河童), meaning "river-child", is a legendary creature known by every Japanese. They are a type of water-sprite found in
Chinese and Japanese folklore. Due to apparant sightings, they are also a part of cryptozoology.
In the original Japanese religion, shinto, they are considered to be one species of many "suijin", water-deities.
Most depictions show kappa as child-sized humanoids
, though their bodies are often more like those of monkeys or frogs than human beings. Some
descriptions say their faces are apelike, while others show them with beaked visages
more like those of tortoises or with duck beaks. Pictures
usually show kappa with thick shells and scaly skin
that ranges in color from green to yellow or blue.
Kappa inhabit the ponds and rivers of Japan and have various features to aid them in this environment, such as webbed hands and feet. They are
sometimes even said to smell like fish, and they can certainly swim like them.
The most notable feature of the kappa, however, is the water-filled depressions
atop their heads. These cavities are surrounded by scraggly
hair, and this type of bobbed hair style is named okappa-atama for the creatures. The kappa derive their incredible strength from these liquid-filled
holes, and anyone confronted with one may exploit this weakness by simply getting the kappa to spill the water from its head. The kappa possesses a
deep sense of etiquette, so one trusted method is to appeal to this, for a kappa cannot help but return a deep bow, even if it means losing its
head-water in the process. Once depleted, the kappa is seriously weakened and may even die. Other tales say that this water allows kappa to move about
on land, and once emptied, the creatures are immobilized. Stubborn children are encouraged to follow the custom of bowing on the grounds that it is a
defense against kappa. In addition, the Japanese Folklore says that the kappa is a master of Koppo; the bone-breaking technique, which was actually
invented by them.
Kappa are mischievous troublemakers. Their pranks range from the relatively innocent, such as loudly passing gas or looking up women's kimonos, to
the more troublesome, such as stealing crops, kidnapping children, or raping women. In fact, small children are one of the gluttonous kappa's
favorite meals, though they will eat adults as well. They feed on these hapless victims by sucking out the shirikodama (尻子玉, shirikodama, or
entrails, blood, liver, or "life force", depending on the legend) through the anus. Even today, signs warning about kappa appear by bodies of water
in some Japanese towns and villages. Kappa are also said to be afraid of fire, and some villages hold fireworks festivals each year to scare the
Kappa are not entirely antagonistic to mankind, however. They are curious of human civilization, and they can understand and speak Japanese.
The pictures are from an Edo-period manuscript, called the "kappakenkyuusho"(河童研究書), this means "kappa research document". Kappa
characteristics are described, such as the ability to understand Japanese, "catfish"-like skin (鯰kokuji=freshwater catfish), and the disc-shaped
There are some similarities to the reptoids, like the scaly skin, the clawed hands, and the humanoid shape. Allthough this creature is apparently more
like an amphibian than a reptilian...There also seems to have slipped a lot of typical Japanese cultural aspects into the stories, so it becomes
rather difficult to filter out what really can be attributed to the creature, and what the Japanese have made of it. What do you guys think?