The town of Fukusaki in Hyogo Prefecture has taken a rather unusual direction when it comes to public art. Namely, the town spent roughly 3 million yen (US$25,000) to install a red, mechanical kappa in the small pond at Tsujikawayama Park (辻川山公園). The strange fixture has become a local attraction, and is scary-looking enough to make children cry!
Just what could have driven the town to install such a creepy mechanical model?
Kappa are mythical Japanese creatures which are said to inhabit rivers and ponds. They are usually described as being humanoid with a beaked mouth, reptilian skin, webbed fingers, and a special “plate” on their heads which must always be filled with water while on land, or else they’ll lose their power. Kappa also have an inexplicable hankering for cucumbers (a good thing to remember in a pinch if one ever tries to eat you!).
That said, there’s a solid reason why the town of Fukusaki chose to install a grotesque kappa and not something a bit more, say, cute and fluffy, in their town’s local park. The town happens to be the hometown of one Kunio Yanagita, a prominent Japanese scholar who was born in 1875 and is known as the Father of Japanese “Folkloristics“ (minzokugaku). The design of the kappa in the park is based on the red kappa which appears in Yanagita’s own autobiography. In addition, a staff member mentioned that a “scarier” version of the mythical monster would attract more visitors, which has certainly proven to be the case!
Our red, mechanical kappa friend at Tsujikawayama Park is usually lurking just beneath the water’s surface, but he rises up to greet visitors approximately once every 30 minutes for only a few seconds each time. Have a look at the bizarre spectacle for yourself:
▼By the way, the red kappa has an older brother, nicknamed “Gataro,” who is a permanent fixture on land at the park.
▼What’s that lurking in the water’s depths?
▼And our red kappa appears! His name is “Gajiro,” according to the video.
▼What a handsome specimen!
▼He disappears in another cloud of bubbles.
Here’s another video for your nightmare-inducing pleasure:
Be sure to say hi to the kappa brothers if you’re ever in the area!