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June 18, 2021



What is a Kappa?

Kappa - Niño de Agua - Mitología Japonesa
Kappa by Hokusai

For centuries the kappa, either child of the river, it is one of the yōkai most famous in Japan.

For a long time it was not known whether it was a mythological creature or a real animal. difficult to spot that had not yet been scientifically identified. In fact, there are stories of kappa all over Japan and people claim to have encountered one. 

It is known by other names (gataro, kawawaro, kawako...) Y has different features, depending on the time and the region.

Descriptions of various types of kappa: kappa-siren, kappa-bow, kappa-turtle etc. 

The physical appearance of the Kappa

Kappa sumo wrestling while watching Shirafuji Genta - Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
Kappa sumo wrestling while watching Shirafuji Genta - Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Although their physical characteristics may be different in the stories, the most common description is of an aquatic creature that lives in rivers or lakes and has the appearance of a frog, the size of a child and sometimes a turtle shell..

Lo más curioso es que se dice que has a concave bald spot on the top of the head, filled with water. and surrounded by hair. It seems that its vital energy depends on keeping this kind of dish on its head filled with water.

Kappa character

There are kappas evil and good. Can devour children or abduct women, but sometimes they talk and do favors for humans in exchange for cucumbers, for example, which is another of their favorite foods. It is also said that love sumo, horses and run away from metal objects and peas., among other things that cause them fear or rejection. 

There are countless anecdotes recounting their tricks or explaining how one should behave if one stumbles upon any of them. kappa around. 

Kappa - Niño de rio - Dibujos japoneses - Yokai

my drawings of Kappa

Here you will find designs from kappa made by me. In them I try, in my own way, to capture the traditional aesthetics of the kappa with all the features described above. 

They are drawings designed for tattooing, some of them already tattooed and others available. You can see more drawings like these in the section Drawings of the web, where I also present other characters of Japanese iconography. 

Detalle tatuaje yago pepino kappa Kappa - Kappa

My Kappa tattoos

You can see here some pictures of tattoos that I have made with kappa.

You may find more detailed material in the Tattoo Gallery of the web. There I dedicate a post for each tattoo and I usually upload several photos to better show the details and also tell something more about the work in question.  

My references to draw Kappa

You can access here to my board "Kappa - Yokai - Japanese Mythology"from my pinterest.

The pins you will find are a selection of illustrations and tattoos from different artists, all of them quite representative in terms of representing a Kappa.

I have created it to be able to easily access these images and use them as a reference when drawing or tattooing.

They are also useful to show my clients and other interested parties who want to see a small selection of interesting references from Kappa.

Knowing the classic representations of a character can help when it is time to specify the idea of a possible tattoo or drawing.

Kappa Pinterest Caroli dilli 1 Kappa - Kappa
About this article

There is much more to tell about the kappa. This post is open to updates. I will be adding useful information and if you want, you can also participate by leaving your comment!  

I am the author of this article. I will be delighted if you disclose this text as long as you cite the source and authorship.

The sources of information used for the creation of this text correspond to the following books and pages cited.

  •  Mizuki, Shigeru. (2018): Encyclopedia Yokai. Vol. 1 A to M. Gijón, Satori Ediciones. 
  • Pérez Riobó, Andrés and Chida, Chiyo (2013): Yokai, monsters and ghosts in Japan. Gijón, Satori Ediciones.
  • Moriarty, Yori. (2015): IREZUMI ITAI. Traditional Japanese tattoo. Gijón, Satori Ediciones. 
  • Kappa - Wikipedia
Written by Caroli Dilli
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