Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The Kappa, Japanese water imp, does on occasion behave kindly to humans, but mostly it is a malevolent creature, so it is not surprising that traditional representations of it portray it as a rather vicious-looking animal, as in these pictures at the excellent Onmark site.
Contemporary representations of Kappa however tend to portray it as "kawaii", cute, cartoon-like, childish. I have yet to read a convincing explanation as to why contemporary Japanese culture is obsessed with kawaii, but if anyone knows of any I would like to hear it. A few examples can be found here
But there is another representation that is found nowadays, that of the sexy female kappa.
The above design is found on vending machines for Kizakura brand sake, and she is certainly well-endowed.
This one, also amply-endowed, is on a bridge in the village of Izuha up in the mountains near here. The statue commemorates an annual race held here, the Suichu Kappa Ekiden, which is a "road race" that takes place in the river.