Northern Japan’s Kappas

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 17th, 2011

Traditionally, Kappas are associated with northern Japan, in the same lowland areas and aquatic wetlands impacted by the recent tsunami.

Tengu Kappa

And you thought those Mutant Ninja Turtles came out of the blue? Or only some fictional sewers?

Special Features of Kappa

* Favorite things to eat — cucumber, fish
* Least favorite things — ironware, deer antlers, saliva

Key to the above drawing:
1) Shell
2) Webbed hands and feet
3) Elastic arms
4) Plate (When there is water in this plate, the Kappa has amazing strength.)
5) A tapering mouth

Kappas have been reported in Japan for centuries, being an important part of the folklore and, apparently, the real world, for the locals who see them in and near the water. The traditional kappas–the so-called “reedbed men”–are described as amphibious with a monkey’s head, three-toed webbed feet, three fingers, triangular eyes, long pointed ears, and a “shell” on its back–definitely resembling a bipedal, humanlike primate, in other words. Stories of the Japanese hairy merman, the mu jima, appear to be linked to traditions of the kappa.

Some parts of Japan promote the notion that the kappa are still very much around. In the tourist literature for the highland town of Tono, in the Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan, guests are told they might just see some kappa, described as “meddlesome water imps given to seducing maidens and eating horse livers.” — from The Field Guide of Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates, page 138

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

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