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Legendary Yōkai [ep.3] Kappa – The Evil River-Child Japanese Monster

Kappa Yokai
A page from the erotic shunga book Utamakura

Kappa, The Evil River-Child Monster who Steals the Precious Soul from the Mouth of your Anus. Characteristics, Behaviour, Legend, and Origin.

The third protagonist of our Legendary Yōkai Series is the Kappa, or 河童, river-child, one of the hundreds of yōkai, the Japanese folkloristic monsters.

It’s an amphibious Yokai, and one of the most famous in Japan.

We personally saw signposts close to rivers and lakes with a Kappa picture. ” If you swim here, the Kappa will drawn you “, the sign said.

We found out later that Kappa is often accused of assaulting humans in the water and removing a mythical organ called the shirikodama from their victim’s anus.

The shirikidama (尻子玉) is a mythical ball said to contain the soul, which is located inside at the mouth of the anus.

According to tradition, they also like cucumbers and to engage in sumo wrestling. The classic cucumber sushi is called Kappa Maki.

The Kappa has been represented in many ways, usually is human-like, but not excessively human.

It is green and has a turtle carapace on his back. A hairy kappa is called a hyōsube.

At least 12 types of Kappa has been codified, as you can see here below, in the Kappa drawings from mid-19th century ” Suiko juni-hin no Zu ” (水虎十二品之図).

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type of Kappa Yokai
Suiko juni-hin no zu 水虎十二品之図 – Illustrated Guide to 12 Types of Kappa

Kappa, Characteristics and Behavior

Probably the most important Kappa’s characteristics is the “dish” (sara) on his head.

Its purpose is to retain water, if the liquid is lost, the kappa will die quickly.

So if you are attacked the best strategy is point at the sara, but we’ll see in the next paragraph the best defense techniques.

When a Kappa adventures outside the water he needs to cover his head to keep the water reserve safe, usually with a metal cap.

Kappa are vicious and evil creatures, they drown people and animals, kidnap children, and rape women. They can even eat humans, and depriving them of their soul (the one in the anus).

But they are not always that bad, often their actions are less terrible. For instance spying on women who are bathing or looking up their kimonos.

At the same time it is not rare for a Kappa Yokai to become friend of other monsters and humans. And it is better to have a kappa as a friend than as a enemy.

kappa yokai anus soul
Defense against Kappa. Yoshitoshi

How to fight a Kappa – Defence Tips

If you haven’t managed to befriend a Kappa, you might be in danger. Here some tips to save yourself from a Kappa Yokai attack!

  • Kappa are very polite. If you bow they will bow as well, and by doing so they will spill their Sara’s water. If a human helps the kappa and puts the water back on his head it will be loyal to him forever.
  • The arms of the Kappa are connected, try to pull one, and negotiate with the Kappa to give it back to him.
  • Since the Kappa like Sumo, challenge him and try to spill the water out the “dish” on his head.
  • If you are not good at fighting take iron, sesame, or ginger with you. Kappa dislike them very much.

Kappa and Cucumber Love in Contemporary Japan

As everyone in Japan knows, Kappa like cucumbers, absolutely their favorite food.

They are often represented with a cucumber or an eggplant on their back.

During the traditional festivals, Japanese use to offer cucumbers to the Kappa, praising them to be left alone.

Twice a year there are Kappa Festivals around Japan.

Shrines are dedicated to the worship of kappa as water deity in Aomori Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture.

kappa yokai

Anime & Manga Featuring Kappa

Kappa is literally everywhere in Japan, anime and manga included. Here just a couple of our personal suggestions:

Arakawa Under the Bridge ” (here’s the trailer) – anime

Summer Days with Coo ” (here’s the trailer) – animated film

How to breed Kappas ” manga

Onna No Kappa UNDERWATER LOVE ” soft-porn movie

Other wonderful illustrated books about the Yokai’s World are:

The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore

Yokai Storyland: Illustrated Books from the YUMOTO Koichi Collection

Japandemonium Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien

Follow us! Don’t miss our next Yokai episode, it will be about Rokuro-kubi


But before you visit the next Yokai, check this out. What if the Kappa actually existed?

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Interested in Japanese yōkai? Start from our Legendary Yōkai Series [ep. 1] “ Legendary Yōkai [ep.1] Nuppeppō – The Smelliest Japanese Monster

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