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The Bones of A Mythical Japanese Water Demon Are Going On Display

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According to Japanese folklore, the Kappa is a monstrous creature that inhabits lakes and rivers. Occasionally, though, the demon will leave its watery lair and challenge humans to single combat. If so, one of them lost: the alleged mummified remains of a Kappa, shot to death in the year 1818, will soon be exhibited.


As Japaaan Magazine and RocketNews24 report:

There are many, many tales of Kappa to be heard all across Japan, and while some people say that it was simply a myth to teach children the dangers of water, or have suggested that it could have been based on the giant salamander, others still firmly believe in the creature, and in some old villages you can still find signs next to bodies of water warning of Kappa.

However, no one has ever been able to prove their existence. Until now?

Mummified Kappa remains from Miyazaki prefecture in Kyuushuu will be on display for the first time at the Miyakonojo Shimazu Residence, until June 22. They were presented to the Miyakonijo Shimazu family after the Kappa was supposedly shot on the riverbank in what is now the Mimata town area around the year 1818.

The foot and arm measure about 8cm and 15cm respectively, but unfortunately you can't see the characteristic webbing between the digits.

Mummified Kappa parts frequently pop up across Japan, but they've usually been exposed as being made by patching together bits of other animals bones, in the same way as the infamous Fiji mermaid. But there has been no expert opinion on these latest remnants, and apparently no plans to get an inspection. Make of that what you will.


This is also, to my knowledge, the only recorded tale of a Kappa being shot. (As previously reported on io9, the more traditional method of killing the demon was rather unseemly.)

And, while the myths about the Kappa vary, on one point they all seem to agree: the creature's source of strength is liquid contained within the top of its bowl-like head. The Kappa are deadly, but well-mannered—and therein lies its weakness. If you bow to it, it will return the gesture, spilling out the liquid and rendering it helpless.

Something to keep in mind, next time you're near a pond in Japan.

Sources: Japaaan Magazine and RocketNews24