Friday, June 24, 2011

Creature Feature: The Kappa

The Kappa is a type of water deity found in the lakes and rivers of Japan. It’s thought to resemble a turtle or frog with some human characteristics. Its color is usually green although blue and yellow are sometimes used to depict it. The Kappa has a hollow area on the top of its head that is filled with water or fluid. If the liquid spills, the Kappa is forced to return to the water. It has a strong fish scent and has a reputation for eating both flesh (it favors human children and horses) and cucumbers.

The Kappa is believed to be extremely intelligent and sometimes thought to make deals with humans. It’s thought to be polite and will usually return a bow (causing it to spill the liquid on its head.)  They are mischievous and occasionally thought to drown people.

Although most people in Japan think of the Kappa as a spiritual being, some people still think of it as a real biological creature. Many waterways in Japan post signs warning of the dangers of Kappas. People will occasionally throw cucumbers into the water to ward them off. Kappas have also become popular figures in Japanese culture and images of them appear on everything from t-shirts to cartoons. The Kappa is a creature that is both feared and beloved by many.


  1. The Japanese have a lot of interesting legends regarding deities, demons, and other kinds of magical beings. I used to love reading Japanese fairy tales as a child.

  2. They do have a lot of interesting legends. I'm not sure if i've ever read a Japanese fairy tale.