Kappa (folklore)

Kappa water imp 1836.jpg
A drawing of a kappa. —From an 1836 copy of Koga Tōan's Suiko Kōryaku (1820).
Other name(s)Gatarō, Kawako

A kappa (河童, , river-child), also known as kawatarō (川太郎, , "river-boy"), komahiki (駒引, , horse-puller), or kawatora (川虎, , river-tiger) is an amphibious yōkai demon or imp found in traditional Japanese folklore. They are typically depicted as green, human-like beings with webbed hands and feet, with a turtle-like carapace on their backs. A depression on its head called its "dish" (sara) retains water, and if this is damaged or its liquid is spilled the kappa is severely weakened.

The kappa are known to favor cucumbers and love to engage in sumo wrestling. They are often accused of assaulting humans in water and removing a mythical organ called the shirikodama from their victim's anus.

There are more than eighty other names associated with the kappa in different regions, including kawappa, gawappa, kawako, gatarō, mizuchi.


The name kappa is a combination of the words kawa (river) and wappa, a variant form of 童 warawa (also warabe) "child". The kappa are also known regionally by at least eighty other names such as kawappa, kawako, kawatarō, gawappa, kōgo, mizushi, mizuchi, suitengu.[1]

Its names kawaso meaning "otter", dangame "soft-shelled turtle", and enkō "monkey" suggest its outward resemblance to these animals. The name komahiki or "steed-puller" alludes to its reputed penchant to drag away horses.[1]

The kappa has been known as kawako in Izumo (Shimane Prefecture) where Lafcadio Hearn was based,[2] and gatarō was the familiar name of it to folklorist Kunio Yanagita from Hyogo Prefecture.[3]

Other Languages
العربية: كابا
Esperanto: Kapao
한국어: 갓파
Bahasa Indonesia: Kappa (mitologi)
italiano: Kappa
Bahasa Melayu: Kappa
日本語: 河童
português: Kappa
Simple English: Kappa (folklore)
ไทย: คัปปะ
українська: Каппа (міфологія)
中文: 河童