Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Golden Kappa

A post inspired by Haikugirl's Not Everyone's Kappa Tea. ^^ She has cuter assortment of  Kappa there!

Here's a Golden Kappa found on the street of Kappabashi.

Kappabashi (Kitchen Town where you can find all sorts of restaurant equipments and cookwares) has adopted the Kappa; a mythical Japanese water creature as its mascot of sorts although the origin of the name Kappabashi was either due to the practice of locals hanging out their ‘kappa’ raincoats on the nearby bridge or from a merchant named Kihachi Kappaya who funded the project to build Shinhorikawa River for water management.

The Kappa on the other hand is one of the many Suijin 水神 (water kami, water deities) in Japanese folklore. They are depicted as flesh-eating water imps who live in rivers, lakes, ponds, and other watery realms. They are generally portrayed with the body of a tortoise, ape-like head, scaly limbs, long hair circling the skull, webbed feet & hands and yellow-green skin,with a tortoise shell attached to their backs and with a hollow cavity atop its head.

Kappa are usually seen as mischievous troublemakers. Their pranks range from the relatively innocent, such as loudly passing gas or looking up women's kimonos, to the evilly sinister such as drowning people and animals, kidnapping children and raping women. When benevolent, the Kappa is supposedly a skilled teacher in the art of bone setting and other medical skills. In addition, the Kappa is always portrayed as trustworthy despite its many evil ways. When captured and forced to promise never again to harm anyone, the kappa always keeps its promise.

The defining characteristic of the Kappa is the hollow cavity atop its head. This saucer-like depression holds a strength-giving fluid. Should you chance upon the quarrelsome Kappa, please remember to bow deeply. If the courteous Kappa bows in return, it will spill its strength-giving water, making it feeble, and forcing it to return to its water kingdom.

Any addition or further insight to this kappa story by you folks over in Japan is most welcome!


  1. I admire you very much. Few Japanese know the name of Kihachi Kappaya.
    BTW, do you like Kappa-roll sushi? Common Japanese people eat the Kappa-roll at the end of sushi dinner.
    Kappa means raincoat,it came from Portuguese's Capa. Capa changed to Kappa in Japanese. So we write 合羽(Kappa)and 合羽橋(Kappabashi).
    Thank you very much for your Kappa story.

  2. @minor,
    Kappamaki is eaten at the end of sushi dinner? Didn't know that but it is our son's favourite (that & ikura makizushi. ^^)

    So, Kappa comes from a Portuguese word, Capa? Interesting. I looked up for more Portuguese's word that are now used in Japanese and it sure is interesting to note that there are quite a number of them. Thanks for the insight, Minor! :)

  3. I like cooking. So I bought some cooking equipment in Kappabashi.
    Most of them are for cooking proffesional.They are made from stainless, steel and bronze.

  4. @cocomino,
    Even for the non-professional, there are plenty of stuff there that might interest everyone, right? ^^

  5. The head thing is a cavity!?!? I thought it was a plate, for real!?

    Yeesh. I feel I]ve learned something. *LEVEL UP* XD

  6. interesting kappa.. wonder whether cape in English is related to kappa

  7. Interesting read about the Kappa :) I never thought that the cap on its head has a function to the creature.

  8. @Ri,
    I didn't know either until I read it somewhere. If I read worng, then I'm wrong about this. ^^!

  9. @bengbeng,
    It's the same, I guess?

  10. @cuteandcurls,
    Me neither. Well, good to know though. Knowing about foklores is always fun anyway.

  11. First time hear about this thing called kappa! Oh I like the folklore - sounds so interesting! A new theme for a horror movie! LOL!!

  12. I absolutely love reading folklores too whether its Malay ke, Chinese ke, Hindu ke ..apa apa saja I love reading them :)

  13. @foong,
    But Kappa in movies that I've seen (or in animes) aren't portrayed as a bad/evil being.

    They do look kinda cute, to be in a horror movie. Don't you think so? XD

  14. @cuteandcurls,
    make it two of us! :)

  15. The Kappa looks like a tortoise with human body, lol!^^

  16. @Alice,
    It sure does, doesn't it?

    Well, the description of a kappa would usually be : a body of a tortoise, ape-like head, scaly limbs, long hair circling the skull, webbed feet and hands, and yellow-green skin. Not too sightly or cute to be mascot. XD

  17. Seems like the ancient Japanese who made it up were unfortunate not to have the technology to do gaming, this is a creature straight from fantasy or animation. Wow.

  18. that is a very good and very interesting observation.

  19. @Jenny,
    When one thinks about it, there are a lot of characters from folklore that seems to come out straight from fantasy.

    BTW, have you watched a Japanese manga turned anime about yokai titles "Ge Ge Ge No Kitaro"? It has even been adapted to games. :)

  20. Enjoyed reading about the Golden Kappa, it is a creature in Japanese mythology that you see quite often.

    Japan Australia

  21. Yes, every one can enjoy and buy interesting stuffs.:)

  22. @Japan Australia,

  23. @cocomino,
    True. ^^

    Even if one is not buying, looking around the shops there is fun too. :)

  24. haha nice golden kappa! ^_^ a bit different than mine lol

  25. @lifeyoutv,
    Yours is definitely cuter. :)


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