As I've mentioned here many times before, I somehow manage to discover something new on my everyday tours. Sometimes just taking a different turn and trying out a new road is enough to come across something interesting that is worth stopping for and taking a closer look at. But even with the help of modern technology, I can always find some new gems.
Here comes Google Maps very helpful. This application does not only offer excellent street maps, but also many hints to several places where there might be something to discover. Many users have uploaded their own pictures on these maps and you can get an idea of what it might look like there before you get there. Doing so, I have found some wonderful parks and also some appealing temples and shrines, simply by surfing through the maps of my prefecture. I might sense which place could be worth a visit, and when checking out some of the pictures Google Maps users offer, I quickly understand what to expect. Sure I don't always know in advance what to really find there, and that's actually a good thing. A little excitement is part of every discovery, however small it may be.
And so, not long ago, I realized that right next to the route I drive at least once a week, there might be a place I should inspect more closely. I found a reference to Kappa which had aroused my curiosity and so I had decided to stop there and see what there is to see.
Yes, Kappa again. He has already crossed my path several times here in Japan.
This water demon, which is sometimes given the status of a minor deity, seems to be at home in many parts of the country. Long ago, this Japanese mythical creature was considered more of a troublemaker, but his image has improved thoroughly since the last century, and today he is considered more of an unofficial nature symbol of Japan, and has been the leading figure in a campaign against water pollution.
So I was going to be able to meet a kappa in my area, I surely wanted to know more about it.
The reference on Google Maps was not quite accurate and from the road I first could not find any hint to Kappa anywhere. After a first unsuccessful attempt, I finally found the object of my curiosity. There he lay, the good old water demon and seemed to be waiting for me.
With a pillow under his head he looked at me with big eyes and he obviously wanted to ask why it took so long for me to pay him my respects.
It's a cozy place, even if it's not always so quiet, because it's actually almost right next to a street, but at least he gets to see a little bit of the hustle and bustle of life that plays far away from him.
On a sign next to him I found thi little but definetely true story, which once happened here with Kappa involved.
The Promise of Kappa.
There was once a servant of the Ma family in Koro who brought a horse to the hut after washing it in the Nodaigawa River and found a kappa hanging from its tail.
The kappa was always playing tricks and teasing the villagers by the river. When the master of the Ma family wanted to punish the kappa, the kappa apologized in despair and was forgiven.
In gratitude, the kappa took a fish every morning and hung it on a wooden lock attached to the front door. Eventually the lock began to break, so an iron lock was installed. After that, the kappa stopped coming. The kappa did not like the iron.
However, no one was made fun of or drowned by Kappa in the river again, and the deity of the Hazama shrine became the god of protection from water disasters.
It's good to see that Kappa and the humans seem to be getting along now. And for me, this little intentional "detour" gave me a few relaxed and cheerful minutes in which I simply let my curiosity lead me. Life is already serious enough, so I can always use a little change.
Happy are those who can still enjoy and feel uplifted by such small things, which is exactly what Kappa must have thought when he looked at me on my way back.I hope you can rest well, catch you later, and I hope some other visitor will stop here too for a little break and keep you company.
And I also promise to come around here again, probably sooner then I think. Just to smile and enjoy the moment. I'm sure we won't regret it.
またね matane (see you soon)
[//]:# (!pinmapple 37.770204 lat 139.156603 long The promise of the Kappa d3scr)