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Revision as of 14:32, 23 June 2006 by (talk)
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Description and Unique Characteristics

Traditional accounts tell of a fish-smelling, scaly humanoid being said to be roughly the size of a six or seven year-old child, that possesses strong features typical to aquatic animals. The Kappa's elongated fingers and toes are webbed like a duck's or frog's, giving it remarkable powers of swimming. (The Japanese are so impressed by the creature's prowess in the water that they actually invented the saying Even a Kappa can be swept away by the river which is used to emphasize the point that even adroit experts can make disastrous errors in their field.) Further augementing the water-dwelling aspect of this creature is the large turtle carpace and underside that encloses its back and torso respectively. Its head however, is not as clearly defined as the rest of its phsyiology, with some traditional sources insisting that it resembles a monkey's, while others of equal vernability differ and mantain that the creature has the visage of a turtle, complete with a hooked reptilian snout. Regardless of whatever be the true case, there is at least one thing mamalian about the Kappa that has been illustrated in folktale that pays homage to it. For a creature so devoid of hair elsewhere, an oddly long thatch of lank and straggly hair sprouts from its scalp, cosseting most of its head, with the exception of an odd hollow and bowl-shaped crest that lies on the top of its pate. The most stiking feature of the Kappa, this strange depression atop its skull, contains its greatest asset:The magical elixer that gives it both strength and life. It seems to be the only glaring weakness of this creature that a person can easily exploit if attacked by a malovelant Kappa. All the above mentioned individual has to do to halt a Kappa's assault, is give a polite bow in its direction. For while disregardful of our finer human notions of exemplary conduct, the Kappa does pride itself on its courtly ettique and will not even entertain the notion of ignoring any bow made to it in greeting. With no hesitation, it immediately bows back. And when this is done, its vital, all important elxier comes tumbling out, leaving it so weakened that it cannot even defend itself, let alone attempt to slay anyone. For a similiar reason, the Kappa cannot leave the water for long. Were its source of elixer ever to dry up, it would quickly perish.


One of the numerous races of sui or water sprites that are believed to inhabit Japan's waters, this much maligned water-imp makes its home in ponds, lakes and irrigation canals. Though occasionally given to lighter pranks like expelling wind loudly in a gleeful manner, its dark reputation as a slayer of mortals, especially of little children for whom it nurses a fond apetite, has resulted in many Japanese immortalizing it in folklore as the deadly lurker in the water, the fiend of the depths that a person would be very fortunate never to encounter. And yet, in a supreme irony, the same tradition has also attributed many benovelant traits to this caparicious sprite.

The Kappa skulks in its watery lair, waiting patiently for an unsuspecting bather to intrude into his domain. Upon getting within grabbing reach of its quarry, it lunges at him, and with a hellish strength belying its deceptively dimunitive size, drags the poor soul down below the water's surface, where it proceeds to plunge its grasping fingers into his anus and yank out his liver and intestines through the rectum. Greedily devouring the organs it has pillaged, it swims away, leaving only a shrivelled corpse in its wake. In addition to being a child-killer, it is also a sexual terror, partial to peeping up the kimonos of women at its best, and outrightly raping them at its worst. Nevertheless, for all his atrocities against human-kind, the Kappa by no means loathes humanity. On the contrary, it harbours a keen urge to learn about and interact with human society as much as it can. Endowed with the gift of being fluent in Japanese, the Kappa can effortlessly communciate with any mortal it meets in one of those instances where its curiosity takes precedence over apetites both carnal and digestive. On occasions like this, the individual that encounters a Kappa might even find himself challenged to a friendly match of shogi(Japanese chess),or sumo-wrestling, both being its favoured past-times. If the opponent is sufficiently prudent to let it win and thereby avoid injuring its easily bruised pride (humilating a Kappa can result in lethal consequences), the Kappa will warm up to him. Yet another way of winning a Kappa's friendship is to offer it some fresh cucmber sushi rolls, the one thing it loves to eat more than little children. (In fact, parents have been known to toss fresh cucumbers into rivers with the names of their children inscribed on them at the start of the bathing season, hoping the resident Kappa will accept the offering and leave their offspring unharmed.)

Once he has won the Kappa's trust, it will reveal to him its great knowledge of bone-setting and the other healing arts, moulding him into a great physician. It comes as no great surprise then, to discover that the Kappa was revered as a great teacher and progenitor of healing wisdom by the ancient Japanese. Farmers and tillers of the soil are in awe of it too, venerating the Kappa for its unfalteringness in guarding important sources of water from defilement, and its willingness to innudate their fields when appealed to do so. To this day, shrines and temples dedicated to the worship of a Kappa deity can be found in the rural hamlets and villages of Japan. Finally and perhaps the most outstanding of the Kappa's virtures, is its steadfast honesty. If someone were to ever trap a Kappa and then release it on condition that it never harms another human being, it will honor its pledge for the rest of its existence.


Reputed to accquire its powers of human speech after reaching its thousanth year, it is sometimes used to represent longevity.


Some think the legend of the Kappa orginated with the practice of floating the corpses of still-born infants down the river.