Showing posts with label enko. Show all posts
Showing posts with label enko. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sexy Kappa?


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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Children's Matsuri

Today, May 5th, is Children's Day in Japan. In Kawado, the village across the river, it is also the day of the year's most important ceremony and matsuri, the Suijin Matsuri, and in the morning the kids have their own parade.


It begins in the local shrine, where a longer ceremony will take place this afternoon.

kodomo2Align Center
The kids are purified and the Kami invited to attend.


The float pulled by the kids has a family of Kappa, or Enko as they are known locally. Soon I will get around to posting the local story about Enko.


The kids taking part are young as the local schools have baseball matches today, and for many young boys baseball is more important.

The birthrate in the countryside is fairly healthy. It's the people of the cities who are having few babies. Hardly surprising.


After the ceremony the lightweight "mikoshi" is carried down to where the float waits and the procession heads off around the village.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Enko..... commonly known as Kappa


This is the drain cover found in my village and the surrounding town of Sakurae. It depicts an Enko which is the local name for a strange creature found only in Japan known mostly by the name of Kappa.

Kappas are aquatic creatures that live in rivers, streams, springs, ponds, and irrigation ditches all over Japan, though they can also survive on dry land. They are generally about 3 to 4 feet tall, with green scaly skin, webbed feet, and a shell, similar to a turtles, on its back. In many ways it looks remarkably like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (remember them?). Perhaps its strangest feature is its head, which has a bowl-shaped cavity on top surrounded by a ring of spiky hair. When out and about on dry land, this cavity must remain filled with water or else the Kappa becomes seriously weakened. Kappa is an ardent sumo wrestling fan, and will eagerly challenge any solitary traveller it encounters to a bout. The best strategy therefore if encountering a Kappa is to bow deeply. When the Kappa returns the bow the water spills out of the cavity and he become too weak to fight.


Kappa is an omnivore, and particularly likes horses and small children, which it will drag into the water before sucking out the innerds ( through an orifice not in the victims head!!!) but most of all Kappa loves cucumbers, there is even a type of sushi made with cucumbers, kappamaki , named after him. Parents whose children are about to swim in a pond or river will inscribe the childs name on a cucumber and throw it into the water in the belief that this will placate the Kappa and protect the child. Kappa is not purely malevolent and sometimes helps humans, and therefore is more akin to an Imp or Trickster than a monster.


The reason it is on our draincover is because there is a story about Enko set in our little village, and I'll post that story later.