Kappas (kawatarō 河童/川太郎，literally means river child) are the most mischievous and mysterious water-typed demon in traditional Japanese folklore. They are distinguished by having a small pool of water suspended on their flat hairless head to indicate their habitat and life force. Their appearance is described as similar to the look of a frog or monkey the size of a human child. More than that, their scaly reptilian skins can be green, yellow or blue. Their physical features include a shell and beak. They could swim in water like fish. They would lose all of their powers and may even die if they ever dry out. Modern culture tends to portray them as a cute and harmless creature. However, during the Edo period, this humanoid sprite was viewed as vicious and ferocious. They would dwell in lakes, rivers and other swampy areas to wait for their prey. Children and women were most likely to become their victims. Kappa would drown them, drink their blood, eat their livers and take away their shirikodama (尻子玉), which translates literally as “small anus ball”. This is the strangest part of this folktale. It is believed to be a mythical ball that contains the soul of a human and it can grant the kappa magnificent powers.
Folklorist/manga artist Mizuki Shigeru wrote:
“Ever since I was a child I heard that I had to be careful in the water because the kappa would try and take my shirikodama. It was said that in the water, a kappa would come from below, extend an arm upwards and stick a hand up your anus to extract the ball.”
As the example above suggested, Kappa is also used as a warning to keep children aware of the danger of drowning in lakes and rivers.
One of the most interesting facts about them is that cucumber is their traditional favorite meal. So if you ever meet a kappa in your life, you should bribe them with a cucumber they would promise to fulfill all of your wishes and you can protect yourself from being killed.
I hope you enjoy this post! o(‧”‧)o