Enkou or Kappa

The Enkou River is one of the six rivers that are streaming through Hiroshima city. It branches from the Kyobashi River in front of Hiroshima Station and streams down to Hiroshima Bay along the Mazda Motor Corp plant. The name "Enkou" is also known as Kappa in Hiroshima area and there is a folktale about Kappa in Enkou River.

Once upon a time on a summer evening with a full moon, a young rice shop owner in Matsubara Cho (near Fukuya Dept. Store in front of Hiroshima Station now), Seikichi was enjoying the cool evening breeze sitting on the bank of the Enkou River. An old lady with white hair spoke to Seikichi from the bank saying, "Good evening. Aren't you Seikichi-san, the young master of the rice shop?" The old lady came down to the riverside and sat next to him. They talked for a while smiling, then Seikichi noticed that the old lady's hair looked black. She was then talking about her girlhood. "Then I got to know a young man named Seikichi-san in one evening," she said. When Seikichi looked at the old lady surprising the same name of his, he noticed that smiling her face had turned to a beautiful young lady's. She looked as same as the girl whom the old lady had recommended him as his bride. Her arm was already around Seikichi's waist and her hand was going to hold his hand. Suddenly someone shouted at the road on the bank, "There is an Enkou!". Then there was a sound as if someone had jumped into the river and both the old lady and the young girl disappeared. If someone had not happened to be passing by, Seikichi might have drawn into the river by the Kappa.

A Kappa is an amphibious supernatural creature said to inhabit Japan's waters. It was thought to be a transformation of a water deity. Generally, the Kappa is believed to be about the size and shape of a 12- or 13-year-old child, with a face much like a tiger with a snout; its hair is bobbed, and a saucer-like depression on top of the head contains water. When the supply of water diminishes, the Kappa's supernatural power on land is impaired. The Kappa's slippery body is covered with blue-green scales and it has webbed feet and hands. Although in some areas Kappa help with rice-planting or irrigation, usually they prey on humans and animals. In particular the Kappa delights in grabbing its victim and tearing out the liver through the anus. The Kappa is also said to be fond of cucumbers. Parents used Kappa to warn children of dangerous places for swimming in rivers or lakes.