Kappa (かはつは) live in the lakes and rivers of Japan. They spend most of their time in the water but are able to walk and live on land. They are said to be about the size of a child. The kappa has webbed feet and hands, scaly or slippery skin, with a turtle-like shell on its back. Kappa are normally green in color. Most depictions of kappa have a dish-like structure on the top of its head, which is filled with some kind of liquid. Kappa enjoy sumo wrestling, eating cucumbers, and causing trouble in various ways. They are both dangerous and helpful, being recognized as both a god and a demon in various parts of Japan. The kappa is one of the most popular yōkai from Japan, with many appearances in media worldwide. Despite their menacing stories and inappropriate behavior, they are often portrayed as cute creatures who are friendly to humans. –JT Lamoreaux

Yōkai in Context