Akaname is a little harmless yôkai, though quite gross. His name, made of two parts, aka – dirt – et name – licker –, is fully meaningful as the sprite literally comes into your bathroom at night to lick the dirt in your bathtub and sink. Disheveled, its tongue hanging out, the small creature is not really scary but not friendly either. If you don’t want to come across Akanama in your bathroom in the middle of the night, there’s but one thing to do: keep it spick-and-span!
A kappa is more generally associated with water, rivers, lakes, and ponds. It is a mischievous yôkai but harmless most of the time: this water devilkin enjoys playing tricks on humans and lure them into water. His most common pranks are to go to villages to steal food or break wind (this is also said to be one way of countering it). Yet, it is also very fond of young children’s flesh but even more of cucumbers. To protect their kids, the Japanese used to throw cucumbers into rivers.
The kappa looks half-tortoise, half-human, with a beak-shaped mouth and a hollow skull where water stagnates, from which it draws its power from. And it’s also where its weakness lies: kappa are very polite indeed, and answers any greeting by bending in its turn, losing its water and thus its power.
Kappa are a favorite of popular culture, like in Keiichi HARA’s animation film Summer Days with Coo and obviously in the game Yo-kai Watch.
Click here to read our article about Hanako-san, Kashima Reiko, and Aka Manto: you’d better know a little more about those ghosts before you find them on your way!