Sticking to the subject of imagination, preservation and immortality…Japanese folklore! Back in January, I was introduced to Kappas in Shimanto-cho at the Kaiyodo Kappa Museum!
At first glance, I thought Kappas were turtles! I asked to learn more about them and was told that they are often described as water spirits, demons, reptilian human-like creatures who live near rivers all over Japan. They can be evil, mischievous and kind to humans. According to a variety of online sources, Kappas are wise, super strong and are known to have other cool abilities. They even love to sumo wrestle! The dish-shaped depression on their heads holds water and this area is known to be the source of much of their strength. Kappas enjoy eating cucumbers too!
I won’t ruin the fun of learning more about them…
The Kaiyodo Kappa Museum is grand in size and in its design. Looking at it reminded me of Laputa, the immense castle featured in the Studio Ghibli film, Castle in the Sky. According to the brochure, the museum was built using Shimanto cedar logs, red soil and other natural materials. Each of the three interior floors is home to kappa sculptures that have been created by artists in Japan and from all over the world who submitted their creations for the Grand Kappa Modeling Prize. Describing these sculptures as beautiful and fantastic is certainly an understatement! The total number of Kappa sculptures in the museum reaches up to approximately 1,700!
Inside the museum’s brochure reads the following quote:
”Every Japanese person has a Kappa living in their heads…no one has ever seen a Kappa, but everyone in Japan knows what they are. Kappa lives in the imagination.”
– Osamu Miyawaki, Curator of Kaiyodo Kappa Museum
The Kaiyodo Kappa Museum is open annually from November 1st to the end of February. I hope to visit one last time before the end of the month. The site stands as a wonderful example of how so many great artists are working to preserve a unique aspect of Japanese culture…