Do you know amphibious and supernatural creatures?
It is said that an amphibious and supernatural creatures had inhabited in rivers or ponds or lakes in Japan. It is regarded as a transformation of a water deity.
The name of the creature is “ Kappa”.
Kappa looks like the size and figure of a twelve- or thirteen-year-old child. Its nose and mouth are projected on the face like beak of bird. The hair style is bobbed. A saucer-like depression on top of the head contains water. When the water in the depression is reduced, its supernatural power is also decreased.
Its body is supple(slippery) and covered with blue-green scales like a fish. It has webbed hands and feet, and carapace on its back like a turtle. Kappa is able to rotate its neck, arm and leg joints freely.
Same as human society, there are Good Kappa and Bad Kappa. Good Kappa help human with rice-planting and irrigation.
In the meanwhile Bad Kappa is predator, kidnapper and it preys on human. It tear out the liver out of anus.
The Kappa is also said to be fond of Sumo Wrestling and eating cucumbers.
When you go to Sushi bar, you ask them to give you Kappa Maki. They will serve you the Sushi-rice and sliced cucumber wrapped with black seaweed. We call it “Kappa roll” which is coming from the Kappa’s favorite food.
KAPPABASHI STREET (Kappa-Bashi-Dori)
As for Kappa, there is the street called the Kappa Bridge Road near Asakusa.
Kappa-Bashi-Dori in Japanese is known just as Kitchen Town. More than 170 shops specialized in the cooking utensils, are gathering along this street and they are supplying everythings related with cooking equipments(utensile), from China-ware and glass-wares, and lacquer-wares, various kinds of kitchen knives, dish cloth, apron and working uniforms, restaurant furniture and bamboo flower baskets, ovens and decorations, packing goods, sample food which you can see in show case at restaurant and also up to gardening ornaments such as “Aquarian Harp ” Suikin-kutsu in Japanese.(dripping of water echoes in ceramic pottery.)
The street name of KAPPABASHI STREET is believed to come from two types of the origin and history, one is coming from the name of Japanese raincoat. We call a raincoat “ Kappa”. About 180 years ago, a certain feudal lord was living around Kappa Bridge Road. Every fine day after raining, the people there were hanging their wet raincoats(Kappa) to dry on the guardrails on bridge”. So people called the bridge “Kappa Bridge” or Kappa Bashi in Japanese”.
The other is coming from the name of merchant who was living here around. His name is Kappaya Kihachi who funded the project to build Shinhorikawa River(Canal) for water management. At that time. this area was frequently flooded on rainy day due to over flow of water from Sumida River. During the construction, Mr. Kappaya Kihachi encountered a lot of the difficulties because of limited manpower. The schedule was delayed so much. The Kappas living in Sumida River were very much impressed by this man’s self-sacrificing devotion to the construction of public utility. Many Kappas were coming to this area from Sumida River every night and helped his work.
Owing to Kappas’ help, he could complete the irrigation successfully and relieve people
living there from the flood.
Since then, people have been saying, if we luckily see the Kappa, we will be able to enjoy long lasting good luck and success in business. Considering the homonym of Kappa among the name of Japanese raincoat and the name of the merchant and the name of popular mythic creature, the group of shops along the street officially adopted Kappa as their mascot. You can observe the images of the kappa appear on shops along the street.
There is a temple on a small alley which is connected with this Kappa’s story. That is the Sogenji temple where Mr. Kappaya Kihachi was buried. People are calling it “ Kappa Temple”.
I luckily came across Kappa few weeks back when I was taking for a walk around the area. In fact, someone might be playing with a stuffed Kappa. By the way I am going to go to Asakusa to buy the ticket for horse racing in this afternoon, wishing to be a millionaire.