The fairytale building (Photo: Chiara Terzuolo)

The Kaiyodo Kappa Museum

See thousands of Japan's mythical water sprite

The fairytale building (Photo: Chiara Terzuolo)
Chiara Terzuolo   - 2 min read

One of the often recurring figures in Japanese folklore, kappa are legendary creatures that are said to live in lakes, ponds and rivers. These small, reptile-like water sprites (or demons, depending what mood they are in...) are recognizable by their green skin, beak-like mouths, and turtle shells on their backs.

Kappa are trickster figures who love to play pranks (or, depending on local variants of the legend, EAT!) on those who swim in their watery habitats. Despite this reputation, kappa are now often shown in the media as comical characters and have even been transformed into adorable mascots.

The Kaiyodo Kappa Museum, in the town of Shimanto, is housed in a charming rounded building that looks like something out of a fairytale. Surrounded by thick forest and located right next to a clear river that would make a perfect home for a few friendly kappa, it is perfect for photography lovers.

The Kappa Museum is run by Kaiyodo, a company that makes figurines, and is located about five minutes from the Kaiyodo Hobby Museum. The Kappa Museum has around 1,300 kappa figures on display, ranging from old-school versions to mecha-kappa. From the adorable to the downright creepy, every possible iteration of these beloved water-loving creatures is on show. Be sure to try the kappa curry at the cafe where a surprisingly detailed rice kappa peeks out from a lake of fragrant curry!

While the displays inside the building are impressive, be sure to explore the grounds, where everywhere you look you will spot hundreds of handmade wooden figures of the critters in a variety of poses, such as doing construction work, riding praying mantises and even playing baseball!

Right behind the museum is a shrine dedicated to kappa, where you can pray for good luck... and perhaps to not be gobbled up by the museum's occasionally fierce namesake!

Getting there

From Kochi City it takes about 70 minutes by car to reach the museum. Look for the bridge with a dinosaur head on it!

Visitors going by train should get off at JR Utsuigawa Station, then walk for 30 minutes or so.

Chiara Terzuolo

Chiara Terzuolo @terzuolo.chiara