Kappa (河童, “river-child”), alternatively called Kawatarō (川太郎, “river-boy”), Komahiki (“horse puller”), or Kawako (川子, “river-child”), are a yōkai (a class of supernatural monster) found in Japanese folklore, and also a cryptid.
Their name comes from a mixture of the word “kawa” (river) and “wappo”, an inflection of “waraba” (child). A hair-covered variation of a kappa is called a Hyōsube (ひょうすべ). There are more than eighty other names associated with the kappa in different regions which include Kawappa, Gawappa, Kōgo, Mizushi, Mizuchi, Enkō, Kawaso, Suitengu, and Dangame. Along with the oni and the tengu, they are one of the most well-known yōkai in Japan.
Kappa are similar to Finnish Näkki, Scandinavian/Germanic Näck/Neck, Slavian Vodník and Scottish Kelpie in that all have been used to scare children of dangers lurking in waters.
It has been suggested that the kappa legends are based on the Japanese giant salamander or “hanzaki”, an aggressive salamander which grabs its prey with its powerful…
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