“A kappa is a kind of water spirit,” explained the bear gently. The name literally means ‘river child’. There are different types, and it is true that for many years stories about them have been used to warn human children of the dangers of playing near water. Once a child has heard about being pulled into the water and devoured by a hungry ogre, you can be sure that they are more careful when playing next to rivers and ponds! Which is of course exactly what the parents want. There are of course mischievous kappa too, and tales of terrible deeds (as with most Yokai), so I can see why you might be frightened. But most kappa are extremely polite with a strong sense of decorum, and for that reason, once a politeness has been shown to them they are loyal and hard working. Toji Tanuki once helped save these particular kappa from being killed when their pond was drained to make way for new buildings. As water spirits they have a strong connection to water and a knowledge of its properties, which as one of the most important ingredients of saké make them invaluable as kurabito”.
The little shrine maiden doll looked at Boss Panda with wide eyes. “But the book also said they eat human flesh!” Boss Panda put his arm gently around her. “Maybe one did once, and you will find warning signs in Japan next to rivers to remind people to be watchful for kappa – but in truth, they much prefer to eat cucumbers. “Well that doesn’t sound very terrifying” agreed Miko-chan.