K is for… Kappa Advisory!

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Fukuoka, Japan.

This is a warning sign for ‘Kappa’; a water goblin of sorts, that I came across in Fukuoka, Japan. It is rumored to inhabit rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. The Kappa is a mischievous creature, but also has a dangerous side. Signs like these remind children that Kappa has a gruesome habit of grabbing youngsters and drowning them if they stray too close to the water’s edge. (I’m thinking the creation of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ probably confused Japanese children into thinking the Kappa was OK after all, and undid centuries of scare-tactic legend.)

There is a trick to surviving a Kappa attack. Their power is stored in the little dish on top of their heads and if they can be fooled into bowing, they will inadvertently empty it, leaving them helpless.

The Kappa is a cryptid (of Greek origin meaning ‘hide’). While the existence of most cryptids have not been scientifically proven, many have also not been technically disproven either. Many rumours of their existence were most likely started much like the Kappa-to keep children away from dangerous areas.

Kappa Water Imp. A drawing from 1936 documenting the supposed capture of a Kappa.

Kappa Water Imp. A drawing from 1936 documenting the supposed capture of a Kappa.

Most countries have extensive folklore that include either mythical creatures like leprechauns, elves, unicorns or cryptids like the Lock Ness Monster.

In Canada we have a few: the Sasquatch, the Ogopogo (think Nessie’s cousin), and the Wendego ( a horrible cannibalistic beast that appears in the legends of Algonquian-speaking tribes in Canada and the US.)

Has anyone come across any other mythical creatures or cryptids in their travels? Any (tall) tales to tell?

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