Episode 43: Water Fae: Kappa
The folklore of Kappas in a nutshell and how I reimagined this faery for my writing.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2022 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about Kappas here.
Get the transcript here.
Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
This episode is brought to you by my book Once… Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie available in eBook, audiobook and paperback. Learn more at ronelthemythmaker.com/my-books.
We’re continuing our exploration of Water Fae.
Today’s Faery: Kappa
Folklore in a nutshell by Ronel
The yokai of Japanese folklore are fascinating. Especially the Kappa, an amphibious yokai. We’ll classify it as a faery. Kappas are depicted as green, child-sized humanoids with webbed hands and feet, with a turtle-like carapace on their backs, and with a depression on its head that holds water. This depression or dish is extremely important: as long as it retains water, the Kappa can stay outside its water source at full power. If the dish is damaged or dry, the Kappa is weakened.
Kappas love cucumbers and enjoy sumo wrestling. They live in the ponds and rivers of Japan. This mischievous creature lives a solitary life but will on occasion befriend other fae. Some Kappas, though, are malevolent to the point of drowning people and eating human flesh. Because of this occasional malevolent behaviour, there is a tradition to write the names of family members on cucumbers and set them afloat on streams in an attempt to appease the local kappa and protect the family.
This mysterious and terrifying creature still holds sway over the countryside of Japan where locals hang warning signs near bodies of water and leave cucumbers just in case.
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an origin of the fae: kappa
This creature loves cucumbers. It also enjoys cabbages. Little known fact: it just likes green vegetables and will eat whatever is in season.
Kappas are known to cause mischief. Those who know of their local Kappa, will offer it something to appease it (usually a cucumber) and the Kappa will leave that person alone for whatever timeframe was negotiated.
Kappas can be helpful. For a price. Offer it enough green vegetables and it will do whatever needs to be done.
A Kappa can be identified by its turtle shell, green skin, child-like body and the basin on its head which should always be filled with water (it’s the source of its power).
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
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