Monday, January 25, 2010

Day LVI - Kappa

Mischievous pondlife,
Imp concerned with etiquette,
Sprightly lilypad.

Nothing to do with sportswear, the Kappa is a troublesome water sprite said to dwell in ponds and rivers according to Japanese folklore. An amphibious humanoid, the creature is said to have webbed fingers, scaly skin and a thick shell and is commonly depicted wearing a lilypad on top of its head. A menace swimming in Japan's waterways, Kappas delight in all kinds of mischief from looking up women's kimonos, breaking wind and kidnapping children (possibly to eat them). Should humans wish to protect themselves from the frog-like pest they can scare them off with fire, give them gifts to appease them (a kappamaki cucumber sushi roll is their favourite) or take advantage of their obsession with politeness and protocol.  If you bow to a Kappa they'll feel compelled to return the gesture at which point you can either escape or enslave the Kappa. If it spills the water in its lilypad it will be unable to move until its refilled with the liquid of its home river and the creature will gratefully help and serve whoever does it that favour. A iconic entity in Japanese culture, the Kappa ultimately comes across as a cool gill-man figure as long as it's not eating children or being too badly behaved. The cheeky water sprites are wonderful beings, indeed.

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