In this issue of Access, you will discover three of many Japanese monsters, or youkai: the Kappa, the Zashikiwarashi, and the Oni.
The Kappa, also known as Kawataro, is a monkey-like, frog-like creature that lives in rivers and swamps in Japan. One of the most well-known monsters of Japan, the Kappa has the body of a child, entirely green or red. It has a round plate on the top of its head, and if the plate dries or shatters, it is said that the Kappa will die. The Kappa loves to eat cucumbers and that is why cucumber sushi is called kappa-maki in Japan.
The Zashikiwarashi is said to be a god that lives in the cellar. The Zashikiwarashi is a monster that looks like a child, approximately five to six years old. There is no distinct sex； the boy supposedly wears a dark kimono while the girl wears a red chanchanko (a padded, Kimono jacket). He/she likes to play tricks such as make noises around the house. It is said that adults cannot see Zashikiwarashi while children can.
Lastly, the Oni often makes appearances in many Japanese folktales as an antagonist. Most people think of the Oni having horn(s) on its head with curly hair, sharp fingernails, and tiger fur around its hips. It also carries around a bat with sharp thorns protruding out. On February 3rd, or Setsubun no hi, there lies a tradition of bean-throwing. The Japanese will aim peanuts or soybeans at the Oni, which wards off evil and brings in good health.
These three significant monsters are only the few of many youkai in Japan. Discover their fascinating stories during your time in Japan.