Yōkai Poetry: Kappa (First Official Post!)

Kappa

Summer moonlight floats /

Over a lake’s calm heaven /

Ancient children thrive //

Frogged limbs pushing through their house /

With an eerie grace /

Unfound in the mortal sphere //

River boy’s beak nipping /

A fresh shirikodama [1] /

Man’s blood dripping down //

Two children swimming along /

Evenly matched skills /

Their shells glimmer in the light //

Anus winds blowing /

From digested cucumbers /

Bubbling through three holes //

Their bald spots reflecting /

Their home for fifty years //

かっぱ


[1] A mythical golden ball said to be located near the human’s anus.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

An ancient illustration of the Kappa

An ancient illustration of the Kappa

Among the thousands of yōkai species that exist, there’s one the reigns as one of the most, if not THE most popular of yōkai: the kappa (trans. river child).

If you have a fair understanding of Japanese culture, the kappa should be one of things you’ve heard about.  They’re a kind of goblin that lives in bodies of water, including lakes and rivers.  Aside from a beak-like mouth, and tortoise-like shell, and webbed hands and feet, its most recognizable trait (and its weakness) is the water-filled depression located at the top of its head.  Their personality can range mischievous to downright cruel.  If you drowned in a lake, it was considered the work of a kappa pulling you down into the water so adults often warned children not to go near the lake at night.

If there’s one food kappa love more than anything, it’s the cucumber.  The kappa are often viewed as a kind of river spirit so cucumbers are offered by humans in order to appease them.  Another favorite meal is the shirikodama, which is said to be a small golden ball located near the man’s anus.  The kappa retrieves this bal by  . . . I’ll give you three guesses.  Also, the kappa is said to have three anuses, so they can pass gas much more fluently.

There are two ways to survive a kappa encounter:

1)    Give the kappa a deep bow, and the kappa, being polite, will return the greeting.  This will cause the water in its head-dish to spill out, thus weakening it greatly.  That’s your cue to run like hell.

2)    The kappa’s favorite food is cucumbers, so if you have any on you, present them to the kappa as an offering, and you’ll be arrived to pass.

Until next time, see ya!

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One Response to Yōkai Poetry: Kappa (First Official Post!)

  1. Jonathan says:

    Very interesting and well written. Learn something new eveyday:)

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