Typically, for TGON, I write the article series The Gods Of Smite. The Japanese Gods section has two “gods” that are actually from groups as opposed to actual Gods or heroes. Unfortunately, there is not enough for a single article for each, so I am doing a group article such as the one I did for Rataosker, Artio, and Awilix. They are Danzaburou, who is part of the tanuki, and Kuzenbo, who is part of the kappa. So today, rather than a Smite article specifically, I am going to introduce you to the kappa, the tanuki, and the kitsune. I am adding the kitsune to round out the article because three is a magickal number where the Gods are concerned. So let’s get into it.
The kitsune, tanuki, and the kappa are all yokai. Yokai are supernatural spirits or demons that can be helpful, harmful, or just mischievous. Yokai are also known as ayakashi, Mononoke, and mamono. Now mind you, demon doesn’t mean the same in Japan as it does in the West. Yokai can have no shape, animal forms, human or humanoid forms, or even inanimate object forms. They have supernatural gifts, with shapeshifting being the most common.
The kitsune are fox spirits. Dealing with them can be unpredictable because they can be wise or deadly. They are hard to distinguish from regular foxes. As pups, they look much like natural foxes. As they age, they gain a new tail every one hundred years. When they get older still, they turn golden, then white. Aside from this, at a century, they get to start shapeshifting, and they love human form. Especially forms that give them power in one way or another. Sometimes, if they are in a mood, they will shapeshift into someone they have seen before. At times, they mete out justice, and at others, they just create drama. One constant with a kitsune they MUST keep their hoshi no tama, which is a glowing globe or a beautiful iridescent gem (I love iridescent gems), on them at all times, without fail. If they lose their hoshi no tama, they become powerless and will die.
Kitsune, while personality-wise, they differ widely from one to the next. They fall into two groups: the zenko and the yako. The zenko worship Inari, the Goddess of rice and prosperity and are generally benevolent, often offering wisdom and messages or giving protection to families. The yako are the dangerous ones. They steal, kill or destroy people’s lives. Both categories love to love or at least lust after and often marry humans. Unfortunately, the marriages don’t always work out. Sometimes, they just want to have sex and embarrass or rob the human they coupled with.
The kappa, like the kitsune, is magickal beings and can use their powers for good or evil. They can also be called kawappa, gawappa, and kawaso. In Japan, they are still seen today, and there are warning next to waters that are thought to have them. They usually live in freshwater. They are part reptile and part humanoid. Kappas are generally short. The tallest spoken about was only five feet. They are also slender, thoroughly looking like a child at the right angle. They are a type of suijin or water god. They tend to range from harmless pranksters to all-out causing death or serious mental harm.
They are great swimmers, just like fish. In fact, like fish, they have scales that are yellow, green, and blue. They have a shell and beak like a turtle and messy long hair. On top of that, they have a bowl shape on their head (see what I did there?). It keeps water and magickal power. Also, like the kitsune, they must take care of it or perish. You can make a life-long friend of a kappa by refilling their skull bowl.
The tanuki is a type of Japanese raccoon dog. Like the kitsune and kappa, they are a yokai. Like a raccoon, they are nocturnal. They are also called bake danuki. The tanuki often hangs out with the kitsune. They do like to fool people like both the kappa and kitsune. Tanuki runs the gambit from prankster, to deadly, to benevolent.
They look just like a Japanese raccoon dog, as I said earlier. They have huge scrotums. In Japan, their testicles are considered lucky and to bring wealth. Nifty. They can be used in a plethora of ways. They are huge. So much so that they can use them to hang glide or umbrellas. They can be used as a weapon or a tool. What kind of tool can testicles be used for besides the obvious?
The kitsune, tanuki, and the kappa are all found in pop culture. The kappa can be found in the Mario games, as well as the tanuki. The kappa is the turtles walking around. The tanuki is then Mario gets that tail and ears and “flys”. In Inuyasha, you find both the kitsune like Shippo and tanuki like Hatchi. Then there is always Smite with the kappa and tanuki. There are many other instances you can find them in pop culture.
I know this article is longer than most of my others. But, I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Did I leave out stuff you wanted from their descriptions? Let me know in the comments below, and I will do a follow-up article or articles. Until next time, have fun storming the castle!