The origin story of Kappa is scary but also very interesting.
The shape of the sea monster Kappa
The Kappa monster is known as a mythical, bogus creature that appears a lot in Japanese folklore. They are described as having the appearance of only small children with thin, small bodies.
In addition, Kappa has a hard shell on its back, like a turtle. Although small, Kappa’s limbs are muscular and sharp mouth, hard skin like a lizard. With monstrous blue skin, Kappa can also change color according to the environment and a strange disk on top. It is said that, as long as there is still water on that plate, Kappa still possesses the power of many enemies.
Kappa are depicted as cruel creatures, with a tendency to be overly mischievous and extremely violent. They often harass residents as well as tourists and challenge passersby to sumo matches of their liking. If the winner wins, they will be able to leave in peace, but if unfortunately can’t do it, the price to pay is their own life.
The special feature of Kappa is the plate on top. Thanks to the plate, they possess great strength and are almost impossible to lose while there is still water inside the plate. Therefore, many people lost the battle and were eaten by it, causing an obsession in ancient times.
However, it is not impossible to get rid of it. According to the rules of sumo, before each match begins, two players must bow to each other. If the victim caught by the Kappa could spill all the water in the dish above its head, it would become extremely weak.
With a temperamental disposition, Kappa is described as behaving very much like a child. If on a good day, they can burst into tears when they are teased, laugh when they are treated well, or indulge in vandalism and harassment of the villagers. Worse still, they can find humans, killing just to eat their liver.
Kappa’s “Heavenly Enemy”
Ironically, the thing that terrified Kappa was extremely easy to find – a cucumber. Indeed, when the ancient Japanese went to the river alone, they should always bring a cucumber.
The reason is because of the strange eating habits of this sea monster. Different from his scary appearance, Kappa likes clean dishes, such as chicken eggs, green apples and especially cucumbers. Even, Kappa is willing to give up everything to have a few cucumbers to satisfy his passion. Not that until now, there are still many children when they go swimming, bathing in rivers and streams, and adults are still advised to bring a cucumber and drop it first.
Despite his fierce, ugly appearance, sometimes violent and harassing villagers, Kappa also has an honest side. According to legend, they have a great talent for saving lives, especially bones.
If a Kappa is captured, it will save the captive’s illness in exchange for freedom. At times, they also take pity on injured or sick pedestrians and care for them unconditionally.
Maybe that’s why Kappa has become one of the most famous folkloric characters in Japanese culture. They appear from poetry, paintings to Japanese slave plays or even in movies.