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Sunday, 11 March 2012

More on Kappas
Citing the definition of an online encyclopedia:

Kappas are about the size of a human child (kappa means "river child"; it's alternate names are kawataro "river boy" and kawako "river child"). Their bodies are described as monkey- or frog-like, with a turtle's carapace. Their faces have been described as apelike, but often have a turtle's beak or duck's bill. They have scaly skin, webbed hands and feet, and are green or [grey]blue in color. What they all have is that fringe of hair, and in the middle of that fringe a depression filled with water.The kappa has been described as a sprite or water imp; in the Shinto religion it is considered one of the suijin, or water gods, not unlike the nymphs of Greco-Roman mythology. In Japanese popular use they are Nursery Bogies, like the English Jenny Greenteeth or Peg Powler, warning children away from bodies of water in which they would be in danger of drowning. Kappas are said to be fond of eating little children, but also occasionally adults; the way to placate them is to throw cucumbers with the names of family members etched into them into the water. Cucumbers are the only things kappas like eating more than humans
[The following quoted sections are not only pertinent to Kappas, I left in the parts about Tzuchinoko and kangaroos in Japan because they are interesting and we don't usually get the information in other parts of the world. The drawing of the Tzuchinoko's open mouth with fangs would be accurate and the American creatures most closely related to it would be the cottonmouths and copperheads.-DD]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paranormal Japan: Kappas, Kangaroo and Kayako

The Japanese may have been mortal enemies to several nations a mere seventy years ago but because of human exoneration and compassion, these former adversaries are now embraced as friends and allies.
As well, each culture has it's own degree of strangeness and oddities. Because of it's tradition and mindset, Japan's uniqueness prevails independently from the rest of the world.
The following posts are previous submissions I have made over the past several years:
I received an email from a reader in Japan recently who asked if I had any knowledge of actual cryptid / humanoid encounter reports or activity in his country. He stated that there were hundreds of spirit sightings and ghost legends...but he rarely heard of people encountering unknown creatures. It was an intriguing I promised to conduct some research and post my findings. The following anecdotes and stories are a few interesting accounts:


At around 11 PM on August 1, 1984 in the town of Tsushima in Nagasaki prefecture, a squid fisherman named Ryu Shirozaki was walking home from the local pier after work. As he passed near the Kuta river, he came upon a small group of children playing at the water's edge. While it was not entirely uncommon to encounter people fishing in the river at night, it was rather surprising to see youngsters there.

As Shirozaki approached the children, he was struck by how bizarre they appeared in the moonlight. He could make out swarthy faces, unusually spindly arms and legs, and glistening skin. Suspicious, Shirozaki called out to them as he neared, but
they seemed startled and quickly disappeared into the water.

The next morning when he returned to the same spot, Shirozaki discovered a set of moist, teardrop-shaped footprints on the nearby pavement. The prints, which appeared to consist of a slimy substance that had begun to coagulate under the hot morning sun, stretched for about 20 meters. Each footprint measured 22 centimeters (about 10 in) long and 12 centimeters (5 in) wide, and they were spaced about 50 to 60 centimeters (about 2 ft) apart.

Shirozaki and a few curious onlookers immediately suspected the footprints belonged to a kappa. People began to gather around as the news spread quickly through town, and all agreed the prints belonged to a kappa. In the minds of many residents, the footprints confirmed the existence of the river imps they knew through local legends.

When police forensic investigators arrived on the scene, they determined that the slimy footprints consisted of an unknown secretion. They took a sample to the lab for analysis, but the results unfortunately turned out to be inconclusive because the sample was too small. The police eventually dropped their investigation, and the mystery of the slimy footprints was never solved.

Another recent kappa encounter occurred on June 30, 1991 in the town of Saito in Miyazaki prefecture, when an office worker named Mitsugu Matsumoto and his wife Junko returned home for the evening. Upon opening the front door, the Matsumotos were confronted with a strange smell inside their home. Inside, they found dozens of small, wet footprints around the front door and in the hallway, bathroom, and two tatami rooms. At first they suspected a burglar, but they soon realized nothing had been stolen.

The police briefly surveyed the house, but found nothing except a floor soiled by 30 footprints, each measuring about 7 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide, and having 4 or 5 toes. To Matsumoto, the footprints did not look human, nor did they appear to belong to any animal he could imagine.

Later that night, as Mrs. Matsumoto was putting laundry away, she discovered an unusual orange stain on some clothing. The next morning, as Matsumoto inspected the house more closely, he discovered a deposit of orange liquid on the portable stereo in the tatami room. He took a sample to the local public health center for analysis, and the results indicated the liquid had an extremely high iron content and a chemical composition resembling spring water.

Troubled by the incident, Matsumoto decided to visit a shaman. After listening to Matsumoto's story, the shaman encouraged him not to worry, explaining that the kappa indigenous to the nearby swamp enjoyed playing the occasional prank on local residents. The kappa were harmless, the shaman told him.

Harmless, perhaps, but Matsumoto found the kappa difficult to clean up after. He tried using detergent, paint thinner and gasoline to remove the footprints and orange stains, but nothing seemed to work.

Sources: Shin-ichiro Namiki, "Nippon No Kaiki Hyaku", 2007


In 2000, Yoshii, Okayama, Japan was in the news, as people were flocking to the region to hunt for the tsuchinoko, a chirping reptile-like cryptid bearing at least some resemblance to a snake or a long, thick lizard. A 20 million yen reward from the Yoshii Municipal Government was the source of all the excitement.

Tsuchinoko fever hit Yoshii on May 21 after a farmer cutting grass swore he saw a snake-like creature with a face resembling the cartoon cat Doraemon slither across his field. The farmer slashed the creature with his weed whipper, but it fled into a nearby stream and escaped. Four days later, 72-year-old Hideko Takashima was talking with a couple of friends in Yoshii when she found what she thought was one of the creatures lying dead next to the stream a tsuchinoko reportedly had dived into to escape from the farmer. She picked it up and buried it.

Yoshii Municipal Government officials heard the rumors of a tsuchinoko and headed out to look over the local woman’s find. They exhumed the body and forwarded it to Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare to be examined. Kuniyasu Sato, the professor who analyzed the reptile, said that the animal may indeed have been the tsuchinoko, but “scientifically speaking, it was a kind of snake.”

Meanwhile, Mitsuko Arima, an 82-year-old from Yoshii, says she saw a Tsuchinoko swimming along a river on the morning of June 15.

“I was surprised. I just pointed at it and asked ‘Who are you? Who are you?’ It didn’t answer me, but just stared. It had a round face and didn’t take its eyes off me. I can still see the eyes now. They were big and round and it looked like they were floating on the water,” Arima says. “I’ve lived over 80 years, but I’d never seen anything like that in my life.” -
The Top Cryptozoology Stories of 2000


[Demon Mummies]

A much smaller mummy — said to be that of a baby demon — was once in the possession of Rakanji Temple at Yabakei (Oita prefecture).
Unfortunately, the treasured mummy was destroyed in a fire in 1943.

----- Kappa Mummies

Like the mermaid mummies, many kappa (river imp) mummies are thought to have been crafted by Edo-period artists using parts of animals ranging from monkeys and owls to stingrays. [In other words, these mummies and the popular Mermaid mummies are mostly what were called Jenny Hanivers in Europe-DD]

This mummified kappa, which now resides in a Dutch museum, appears to consist of various animal parts put together in a seamless whole. It is believed to have been created for the purpose of carnival entertainment in the Edo period.
Another mummified kappa can be found at Zuiryūji temple in Osaka.

The 70-centimeter long humanoid purportedly dates back to 1682.
[70 cm is 2 feet 4 inches and this one is presumably made mostly out of the body of a shaved monkey]

Another notable kappa mummy can be seen in a seemingly unlikely place — at a sake brewery in the town of Imari (Saga prefecture).

According to a company brochure, the mummified kappa was discovered inside a wooden box that carpenters found hidden in the ceiling when replacing the roof over 50 years ago.

Reckoning the creature was an old curiosity their ancestors had passed down for generations, the company owners built a small altar and enshrined the kappa mummy as a river god.

Kangaroo Sightings Persist In Japan's Mayama Mountains

It may seem odd, but the locals swear it is true. People in a Japanese mountain region have reported a number of kangaroo sightings, and journalists are now trying to stalk the marsupials.
The descriptions given by the apparent eyewitnesses seem close enough. For years they have spoken of a beige animal with large ears, one to 1.5 metres tall, that stands by the roadside and then hops away.
The sightings were all reported in the Mayama mountain district of Osaki city in Miyagi prefecture, a community of 441 households, located about 350 kilometres north of Tokyo.
The city has received about 30 reports of "kangaroo-like animals", including three cases since December, when the mountain area was often covered in snow, said local official Tetsuya Sasaki.
"People aged in their 40s to their 60s have said they have spotted what looked like kangaroos while travelling to and from work in the early mornings and evenings," said Mr Sasaki.

Rumours about kangaroo sightings started about seven years ago, and television crews and newspapers have set up hidden cameras in the district, but have so far failed to capture an image of a kangaroo.

As a joke, "some people have put up 'kangaroo crossing' signs on their roadside properties," Mr Sasaki said.
Kangaroos are on show at many Japanese zoos and can be imported by individuals.

Hairy "Kappas" above, Aquatic Kappas below
In this case, I would think that the 5-fingered and toed, hairy"Kappas" in the first two rows above represent Hibagons, larger and more apelike creatures than the Freswater Kappas. In the Kappa pictures below, most of them are of a slenderer, more monkeylike build: and if there is any further complication to be considered, it might well be that some artists make freshwater Kappas too much like the "Known" Japanese macaques. The hairy Kappas have hair on top of their heads, but it is not exaggerated into the ruffle or mane seen on the FW Kappas. In the stories above, I take the slimy teardrop-shaped tracks to be FW Kappa tracks, basically triangular but number of toes indistinct, tracking pond scum around with their feet: the rusty footprints come friom a four-or-five-toed creature but the tracks do not include the heel, only the forepart of the foot. They are possibly also [composite] dog tracks. Whatever it is had waded through rust-tainted water or mud puddles.

Above, Kappa Anatomy. Below, Kappa model in a museum. Both are at the website:

Hence the first two illustrations under the heading "Slimy Footprints" might be the Habugon creatures but really I think the first one is modelled too closely upon an actual Japanese macaque in this instance. The majority of the FW Kappa illustrations do show three-toed, webbed and flipperlike feet: some of them could also be four-toed. once again the "Turtleshell" on the back is the "Cape of hairs" slicked down and other illustrations reprinted here show the area to be an area thickly covered in thick, stiff, bristly hairs also. The belly is uniformly depicted as less thickly furred and lighter in colour. The face is generally apelike, the snout is drawn out into one muzzle with sharp teeth and no nose, only nostrils indicated. something of a browridge is frequently indicated. The snout is also ofetn caricatured. Extremely large eyes are indicated, but the lids are usually partially closed over them.illustrations of the terrestrial kind show a fully developed opposed big toe and some of the flipper-footed kind show a stump of a big toe set down far on the inside of the foot: the toe seems vestigial but variably expressed in the live animals. The outside (little) toe is likewise usually missing on the flippers but is sometimes present on the illustrations, and sometimes there are four toes on one foot and three on the other. I do not know how trustworthy that observation might be.

I would suspect the mummy at Rakanji Temple was possibly legitimate and it is a shame the original was destroyed in a fire. Most of the others are admittedly manufactured items.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. So in the end it looks like we were both right. Kappas and other Freshwater Monkeys do seem to possess five toes, but two are vestigial and thus do not appear in tracks and are usually unseen by witnesses. Thus, you have a five-toed animal leaving three-toed tracks.

    Best regards,
    Tyler Stonw

  2. Until and unless we get better indications to the contrary, that would seem to be the best solution. And I would never have thought so if I had not gone and done the extra research.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    1. The sake brewery mummy appears to be a (probably 3-toed) sloth.

    2. I wasn't considering it as a candidate for an actual legitimate Kappa mummy and you could be right. I don't know as I can see enough of the anatomy to be certain, but if so, then it must be an imported item.

      Best Wishes, Dale D.


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