Meet The Kappa, The Mythological Turtleman Who Steals Souls From Butts
Sometimes, in the world of cryptids, mythology, and legend at large, a monster can be clearly linked to a fear or motivation. They can be straightforward in their motivations and methods, almost to the point of 2-dimensionality. When we think of the werewolf or the vampire, it’s a fairly simple understanding. They’re here, they’re weird, and they’re going to kill you.
However, some creatures, especially those among the category of Japanese yōkai, a wide-ranging classification of spirits from Japanese folklore, have a breadth of lore so full of specifics that it’s borderline overwhelming. Some of these have made themselves known in Western pop culture, especially to video game fans. The tanuki even the basis for one of Mario's most famous suits (minus the famously large balls.) One creature that is an extremely well known example in Japan doesn’t rear its head nearly as often in the West. Part of the reasoning for that, I think, is that it is an absolute freakjob. I’m talking about the Kappa.
From the very first moment you’re presented with a picture of a Kappa, your reaction is likely, “wow, I am hugely not a fan of anything going on here.” Some of the overarching details aren’t that surprising, being that they’re described as river-dwelling creatures that are a combination of a turtle and human. So far, so good. After all, right now we’re pretty close to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one of the most successful cartoon empires of a generation.
Where the Kappa goes wrong, the first sign that something is very, very wrong here, is their haircut. First of all, that a turtle man POSSESSES a haircut. Try to imagine any sort of haircut on the aforementioned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that isn’t an absolute nightmare. Aquatic creatures shouldn’t have flowing hair. That’s just a basic, natural rule that shouldn’t be violated. Kappas are here to ruin that, as they usually possess not just any haircut, but an awful, shaggy bowl cut with a big bald spot in the middle. No one should be taking style cues from Joe Pesci post-head-torching in Home Alone.
Why do they have this bald spot? Well, the Kappa has a sara, a small bowl-shaped depression on the top of its head, like a messed up fontanelle, in which they carry a small puddle of water when they leave the river. If this water isn’t present outside of the river, the Kappa finds itself paralyzed. So basically, they’re walking around with a nasty little martini glass in their skull that they have to keep topped up. Which I’ll admit, is actually kind of cool. In fact, I think the contrast of a cool detail like the sara inside of a deeply upsetting hair situation represents to me, the duality of the Kappa. Like a great anime that keeps hinting at a really weird relationship between a brother and sister, the Kappa keeps outweighing how cool it is with horrifically disgusting details.
Another example of the Kappa’s penchant for contradiction is that, though many of them are considered to be malevolent creatures, going as far as to attempt to drown small children and livestock, they are also… obsessed with being polite. Legend says that one of the most reliable ways to defeat a Kappa should you encounter one is with a deep and respectful bow. The Kappa will feel obligated to return the gesture, at which point the water will spill out of the sara on their heads, and now you’ve got an extremely weakened Kappa. Not only that, if you refill the sara for them, they are said to be eternally grateful, willing to help you or to honor any promise made. For example, I might make the Kappa promise to stop trying to drown my children and livestock.
If you don’t manage to make them spill their magic head water, you might be in for trouble, as they’re known to be extremely strong, and… love sumo wrestling. You see what I mean? Most cryptids don’t have a favorite hobby. The depth of this creature confuses and frightens me. In this situation, your best strategy is to, well, pull their arms off. Apparently, their arms are… loosely attached? The unending lore of this creature makes a Christopher Nolan movie seem like a young adult novel.
Not all Kappa are malevolent, however, and some of them are not only helpful, but actually credited with sharing society-shifting medical knowledge with the human population. The most prominent of these is that Kappa are considered responsible for teaching humans the art of bone-setting. Maybe when you have notoriously easy-to-remove arms, you tend to get a lot of knowledge on how to put a skeleton back together. So, any Japanese child that breaks their arm on a trampoline, you have a group of nasty turtlemen to thank for their medical research, like a gross mythological Operation Paperclip.
So far, the Kappa seems like a deeply unsettling creature, but you read the title of this article. Perhaps it’s why you clicked. I won’t put it off any longer. It’s time to get into the final detail that makes the Kappa, as far as I’m concerned, one of the biggest absolute freaks of the mythological world. I’m talking about the Kappa’s deep motivation to get inside of your ass.
You see, there’s one thing that a Kappa wants more than anything else in this world. Obtaining your shirikodama. The shirikodama is a mythical jewel that contains your lifeforce. Where does this fabulous jewel reside? Most people would probably guess the head or the heart, which tend to be the body locations often associated with the soul. The shirikodama, however, exists in your shiri. Meaning your anus.
So yes, that is the cherry on top of this awful sundae. These bowl-cutted turtle men’s deepest, greatest motivation, is to retrieve a magical jewel from inside your butthole. Just imagine those scaly little webbed hands. Sometimes tales even say they, uh, suck them out. Ok, sorry. Though gross, this backside placement is somewhat advantageous for those looking to defend, as the butthole is, physically, a fairly defensible location.
The Kappa have developed a strategy for this. To get the jump on unsuspecting victims, and their butt jewel, they employ a particular tactical move.
They hide inside women’s toilets.
You know what? Give me a good old-fashioned vampire any day.
Top Image: Wikipedia/Pixabay