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Storytelling & Fables

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Storytelling & Fables

Kappa The kappa is a kind of water sprite that lives in rivers. It has a characteristic hair style called okappa atama and has a plate filled with water on top of its head. It is said that the kappa will lose its power if it does not have this water. The kappa is a mischievous creature and sometimes plays tricks like pulling horses into the river.

Kaminari Kaminari, the god of thunder, straddles clouds wearing a loincloth made of tiger skin, pounding on a drum. Japanese parents often warn their children that kaminari will steal their belly-buttons if they stick them out too far.
Tatsu The ryû (tatsu), a dragon which looks like a gigantic snake, flies all over the sky, and breathes fire. A dragon symbolizes evil in western countries, but in Japan it is the god of clouds and rain and is one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Oni The oni, a sort of goblin who eats human beings, has horns on its forehead, fangs in its mouth, and wears nothing but a loincloth. Oni are familiar figures in Japanese folk tales such as Momotarô, a story about a hero who, with the help of a pheasant, a monkey and a dog, pursues oni.

Tengu The tengu, a kind of goblin who lives in the mountains, looks like a human being but has a long nose and two wings, so it can fly all over the sky.The expression tengu-ni-naru(becoming a tengu) means to be boastful about your own exploits and ability.
Inari The kitsuné is a real species of fox in Japan, but it is considered supernatural. Kitsuné are the objects of worship of Inari Shinkô, an old folk religion.