the online database of Japanese folkore

Garappa

ガラッパ
がらっぱ

Translation: a regional corruption of kappa
Alternate names: gawappa
Habitat: rivers, lakes, ponds, streams; found only on Kyūshū
Diet: omnivorous; same as the kappa

Appearance: Garappa are river spirits found on the islands of Kyūshū in southern Japan. Close relatives of kappa, they resemble them in many ways. The two are often confused with each other, although there are a number of important differences. A garappa’s limbs are much longer than those of a kappa. When garappa sit down their knees rise high above their heads, unlike the stubby kappa’s knees. Because of these longer limbs, garappa are taller than kappa when standing upright. Garappa also have slightly longer and more streamlined faces.

Behavior: Garappa are shyer and more elusive than kappa. They tend to avoid populated areas and instead, wander back and forth between the rivers and mountains. Garappa live in smaller groups, or by themselves. Because of their shyness, garappa are more often heard than seen. They have two distinctive calls: “hyō hyō” and, “foon foon foon.”

Interactions: While garappa encounters are much rarer than kappa, they share a similar relationship with humankind. Extremely fond of pranks and mischief, garappa love to surprise people on mountain paths, or trick travelers into losing their way. Like kappa, garappa are physically stronger than humans and are easily capable of overpowering grown men larger than themselves. They are extremely fond of sumo wrestling, at which they are highly skilled. Garappa are also sexually aggressive and are known to assault and rape women.

Despite their reputation as tricksters, garappa are absolutely dedicated to keeping their word. When captured or bested in contest by humans, they can be forced by their victors to promise to stop drowning people, playing pranks, making noises in the woods, or similar concessions. Over the centuries, Shinto sects who revere garappa have worked to earn promises from them to cease doing evil. As a result garappa attacks have become less and less common over time. Garappa occasionally even serve humans by catching fish or planting rice fields, and they are credited with teaching the ancient people of Kyūshū the art of making poultices.

Alphabetical list of yōkai