Showing posts with label kappa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kappa. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Inori no Sato Religious Roadside Attraction


Coming down from Unzen Hot Springs towards Obama on the coast of Tachibana Bay, the road is steep and without any settlements until just above the town.

Inori no Sato is sometimes described as a park, sometimes as a roadside rest area, but it looks like some kind of religious roadside attraction with a wide range of statues and altars, and yet is not a temple or shrine.

It is sometimes referred to as Unzen Daibutsu Inori no Sato because of the Buddha statue seen in photo 2, which was made by the same sculptor who created the Ushiku Great Buddha in Ibaraki.

That was a standing figure 120 meters tall, whereas the statue here is a seated figure only 3 meters high including the base.

There are several statues of Kannon, photos 3 & 7, and several Fudo Myo statues, photos 6 & 14.

Under a gazebo in the middle of the park is an impressive statue of a Dragon grasping a golden sphere, photo 5, with a smaller version, photo 8. This is a common symbol across East Asia. The Secven Lucky Gods, shichifukujin, also make an appearance, photo 4.

Various figures from the world of Yokai make an appearance, including a Kappa Pond, photo 9, and a giant red Tengu mask, photo 10.

No overview of Japanese popular religion would be complete without an Inari Shrine, photo 11, a small collection of monkey statues probably related to the Koshin cult, photo 13, and a statue of Shotoku Taishi, photo 12.

There seems to be an emphasis on praying for good luck, success, and other "this worldly benefits", known as genze riyaku in Japanese.

Not shown in these photos is a miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage with 88 small statues, and a pair of "sexual" statues based on Dosojin.

There is no entry fee, though offertory boxes stand in front of all of the statues, and no sect or religion is being pushed. The whole thing was funded by a local businessman, Mr Takujima.

It seems he is the chairman of a successful construction company and Inori no Sato is his attempt to contribute to the well-being and perhaps revitalization of the local area.

The previous post was on the Unzen Hells.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Day 14 on the Ohenro Trail Winds Down

Ohenro Trail Day 14

Ohenro Trail.

The famous Shikoku Pilgrimage, known as Ohenro, was the first formal pilgrimage I walked. Hard to believe it is now over ten years ago. In early October 2011 I was on the 14th day of walking

These are a few of the snapshots I took towards the end of the day. Most of the day had been taken up with the climb to Konomine-ji, the 27th temple of the pilgrimage, and Konomineji Shrine nearby. Coming up the coast I stopped in at Cape Oyama

Tosa, the former name of Kochi, was one of the instigators of the Meiji Restoration, and there were statues of some of the major figures from Tosa associated with it. This is Ryo Narasaki, wife of the famous Ryoma Sakamoto.

For a section the path followed a cycle trail through the pines planted along the beach.

Like most areas of Japan, there were Kappa legends around here.....

As sunset approached I reached my destination for the night, the Haginori zenkonyado. Zenkonyados are free lodgings for walking pilgrims provided by individuals rather than temples. Hagimori-san is well known among walking pilgrims as a source of up-to-date information on free lodgings on the route. His little cabins are located under the elevated railway near Nishibun Station. Two other pilgrims stayed that night..... not a busy time on the route...


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Friday, December 24, 2021

Kappa of Tanushimaru

Japan Guide

When I reached Tanushimaru along the Hita Kaido, another kind of statue, other than Ebisu,  started to appear, namely Kappa.....

One of the most well-known of the yokai, the kappa is usually translated into English as "water sprite" and is a creature that inhabits rivers, ponds, etc. Legends of kappa are found all over Japan. Nowadays it is often rendered in a "cute" form.

The kappa in the area are depicted in other ways as well as by statues. It is one of the towns that feature them on decorated manhole covers. Our local town also features a kappa, though it is called enko in our area. It is based on a legend from my village and one of these days I will get around to telling it to you.

Kappa throughout Japan have a similar form..... a turtle shell, a beak, webbed feet, and an indented skull with a fringe of hair. I suspect this homogeneity of form began in the Edo period when collections of yokai images were published and then later in the twentieth century at first with the work of folklorist Yanagita Kunio, and then later with the manga and anime works of artists such as Mizuki Shigeru.

I confess to not having done the work to research the actual kappa stories of Tanushimaru.

At the end of the days walk I took the train back to Kurume and was surprised to see the small station of Tanushimaru....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kappa Manholes


The Kappa, one of many mythical creatures classified as "Yokai", is often translated into English as "water sprite", though that does not convey much of the character of these creatures. Stories of Kappa can be found all over Japan, but some areas have a stronger connection to them. The design above is from Tsuyama in Okayama, where the creature is known as Gongo. A Gongo festival is held every year.


South of Tsuyama, though connected by the same river system, is the town of Kumenan. The toen mascot is "Kappy". There were several different designs incorporating Kappa, but I passed through in the dark so the only photo that turned out well was the one above.


Tanushimaru along the Chikugo River in Fukuoka claims to be the original source of all Japanese Kappa. There are many Kappa shrines in the area and statues of Kappa are everywhere. The railway station is also shaped like a kappa.


The photo below is from further south in Kyushu, Satsumasendai in Kagoshima.


The best manhole design of Kappa though is the one from my town, Sakurae, where it is known as "Enko". It can be found here.

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.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yokai Gallery 1


Yokai is a very broad category of creature that includes monsters, goblins, demons, in fact all and every kind of supernatural being in Japanese folklore. One man who is largely responsible for keeping yokai alive in contemporary Japanese folklore is Mizuki Shigeru whose manga and subsequent anime, tv programs and full length movies introduce many of the classic yokai as well as creating many new ones.

Shigeru's hometown, Sakaiminato in Tottori, has created the Mizuki Shigeru Road in honor of him, and there are more than 100 bronze statues of yokai along an 800 meter stretch of road.

The first statue just outside the station shows Mizuki Shigeru himself working at his desk. To the right is his most famous creation, the yokai Kitaro, though looking like a boy is actually 350 years old. Kitaro has appeared in 2 full-length movies. The yokai on the left is Kitaro's sidekick, Nezumiotoko (Ratman) who is almost as old as Kitaro and has never taken a bath so stinks.

Kappas, the water -sprites appear several times along the road.

The creature on the right is a Kirinjishi, and on the left is Shoujo, both characters are from old Chinese stories.

Nurarihyon is a yokai from folklore that may have derived from stories of a large jellyfish. In modern stories he is considered to be the commander of all yokai, and has a habit of slipping into peoples houses while they are busy making dinner and helping himself to tea and tobacco.

Momonjii is a kind of bogeyman that carries children off into the forest and is used by parents to threaten their misbehaving kids. Believed to derive from Momonga, a kind of small flying squirrel that turns into momonjii upon reaching old age.

Gangikozou is a fish-eating water monster related to the kappa.

Nuppeppo is probably from the Edo area, and to me looks like Mr Potatohead, but is actually a piece of dead flesh often found wandering in graveyards and temples.

Originaly from China, the Baku has been in Japanese folklore for a thousand years. It is a dream and nighmare eater, and it has had varying forms over the years. Baku is also the Japanese word for Tapir, and modern renditions have the yokai appearing similar to a tapir.

Nureonna has the body of a snake and the head of a woman. Exists in various sizes up to 300 meters in length, and often found on the seashore. has a habit of sucking all the blood from its victims.

for more yokai i9mages please click below

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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.