Yay! A Japanese demon!
Kappas are demons that inhabit swamps, marshes, rivers, any fresh body of water, really. They look kinda scaly, might have a turtle shell, and are about the size of a ten year old kid. Some of them have bird beaks or duck bills.
Their skulls are concave on top, and the depression is full of water. This lets them move around on land without drying out. So, if you want to hurt a kappa you see on land, bow politely. The kappa’s innate sense of propriety will force it to return the bow and the water will dump out. It’s not clear if this kills a kappa, but it definitely slows it down.
Apparently there’s another way to get rid of them. Or anyone. See photo.
The word ‘kappa’ means ‘river child’ and it is possibly the only demon with a sushi roll named after it.
That’s because kappas have two favorite foods: small, fat, luscious children, and cucumbers. Luckily, the kappamaki sushi roll goes for the last one, not the first.
In fact, kappas will do just about anything for a cucumber. They’re not bad folks, really, despite luring (mostly) kids and (sometimes) adults into water where they drown. And despite the fact they then enter that person’s body through their bum, suck out their guts and eat their liver.
Really, they just want to get along. And eat cucumbers if they can’t chow down on a kid.
In fact, kappas can be very helpful to humans. First you’ve got to make friends with them (a cucumber comes in handy here) and get them to agree to do stuff. One of their more sterling traits–besides the bowing thing–is that they always keep their promises, scout’s honor. None of this ‘looking for loopholes’ that’s so common in dealing with demons.
|Once you’re friendly with a kappa, it will do all kinds of things for you (probably for cucumbers), like irrigate your crops and teach you how to set broken bones.|
P.S.: “Kappa” is also the Japanese term for rain gear.
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
by Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack