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Japanese Yokai: Kappa

Updated on August 20, 2014

Japanese Yokai: Kappa

A Kappa without his tortoise shell.
A Kappa without his tortoise shell. | Source

What Are They?

If you watch anime frequently, then you've probably seen a Kappa come on and be used for crack comedy and giggles. They're often portrayed as timid and benign creatures that live in the water.

In reality however, the Kappa is quite mischievous. It can easily kill you, play pranks on you, or if you beat them in a bet, they will help you.

The Kappa or "river imp" is a dwarf sized flesh-eating water demon, they are described as a mix of a tortoise; with green scales, green skin, and a tortoise shell on their back, but with the figure of an old man.

Their most noticeable feature is the depression on the top of their head, inside of it they store water, which gives them a massive amount of strength. If a Kappa gives you trouble, simply bow down deeply to it, as they are often courteous, they will bow back, spilling all the water out, and leaving them frail and weak.

Kappa Can Be Evil

One theory states that Kappa are supposedly the spirits of drowned victims, and like all ghosts or demons that rise from tragedy, this can mean that they are quite malicious.

Kappa will do anything from passing gas, looking up women's skirts/kimonos, touching a person's bottom as they go... potty. If they feel especially evil, they will drown a person or animal and remove their entrails, or suck out their blood, leaving a hollow corpse behind, they always prefer taking the liver, no one really knows why.

Kappa Originate from Japan

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Kappa is often portrayed as helpful and trustworthy demons.
Kappa is often portrayed as helpful and trustworthy demons. | Source

Benign Kappa

Kappa are very knowledgeable in medicine, primarily bone-setting. The thing with Kappa is that even though they have many evil desires, they often fail in causing any mischief at all, and can be easily beaten.

Should you be able to get the Kappa to bow down and spill out the water from it's head, or beat it in a contest the Kappa will pledge to help you.

Another popular way to beat a Kappa is to detach it's arm from it's body, in stories and myths Kappa often try to drown horse's or other animals, but should the animal be smart enough to simply pull itself away, it's arm would detach. That's when the Kappa will go to the closest town or village to request help to get it's arm back.

Should the people force the Kappa to pledge to never harm anyone again, or perhaps give secret medical knowledge in bone-setting, the Kappa will forever be loyal to you.

As evil as they are, once you can beat them in a contest, get them to spill their water, or detach their arms, it gets quite easy to force them to make a promise from there. Kappa are strangely honest, and loyal once their benevolent sides come out.

How Can The Kappa Help You?

Once they become loyal to you, they can:

  • Assist in growing crops
  • Become your personal doctor
  • They can teach in medical schools
  • Make medicine and salves for the sick
  • Fish for you

Kappa Poll!

Do you want to meet a Kappa?

See results

How to Keep Kappa At Bay

Oddly enough, Kappa's love cucumbers along with their raw flesh diet, if you carve your age and name into a cucumber, and throw it into any body of water. You can be sure that you will never be attacked by a Kappa.

Although don't eat a cucumber and then go swimming, or you can expect to have your entrails sucked out for that cucumber.

Oh, did I mention that they don't like metal or loud noises, ya, that probably would do the trick.


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