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The story is narrated by a psychiatric patient who claims to have travelled to the land of the kappa , a creature from Japanese mythology. A psychiatric patient, who is known only as "Number 23", tells the story of a time he visited the land of the kappa. He had lost his way in the mountains of Hotakadake and was surrounded by a group of the strange creatures, who then showed him around their home.
He found that the world of the kappa often appeared to be the opposite of how things were in the human world.
For instance, foetuses are asked by their fathers whether or not they want to be born. One replied, "I do not wish to be born.
In the first place, it makes me shudder to think of all the things I shall inherit from my father — the insanity alone is bad enough. The psychiatric patient relates how he met with kappa of many occupations. One of them, Geeru, told him that unemployed laborers are gassed and then eaten by the other kappa. Patient 23 also encountered Maggu, a philosopher writing a collection of aphorisms titled The Words of a Fool , which included the line "a fool always considers others fools".
He met another kappa called Tokku, a sceptical poet who had committed suicide and appeared to Patient 23 as a ghost by means of necromancy. He esteems Michel de Montaigne who justified voluntary death, but dislikes Arthur Schopenhauer because he was a pessimist who did not commit suicide. On his return to the real world, Patient 23 muses that the kappa were clean and superior to human society and becomes a misanthrope.
When it was first published, many Japanese reviewers saw it as an unsophisticated social satire that lacked insight. Tokku, the suicidal poet kappa, has often been seen as a self-portrait of Akutagawa, who took his own life the same year that Kappa was published. Kappa has had a number of translations into English. Geoffrey Bownas , a Japanese studies scholar, produced a third translation in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Monumenta Nipponica , 27 1 , pp. Time , 25 August, Akutagawa Ryunosukei , Tokyo: Sanseidou, in Japanese. Tokyo Shimbun. Kappa Hidden categories: Use dmy dates from November All stub articles. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.
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E ighty years ago, in January , Ryunosuke Akutagawa, his wife and his youngest son waited for the train that would take them back to Tokyo. Akutagawa and his family had been away for almost a year in the hope that the peace and quiet of his wife's village would restore Akutagawa's health and nerves. He was 34 years old and short stories such as "Rashomon" and "Jigoku hen" "Hell Screen" had established him as one of Japan's leading literary figures. These early stories were often grotesque but highly stylised retellings of classical Chinese and Japanese tales. He was also a noted critic and editor.
The story is narrated by a psychiatric patient who claims to have travelled to the land of the kappa , a creature from Japanese mythology. A psychiatric patient, who is known only as "Number 23", tells the story of a time he visited the land of the kappa. He had lost his way in the mountains of Hotakadake and was surrounded by a group of the strange creatures, who then showed him around their home. He found that the world of the kappa often appeared to be the opposite of how things were in the human world.
'Kappa': Akutagawa's masterpiece blunted by time but still fascinating
Amazon wishlist. The complete review 's Review :. Kappa is presented as the first-person account of a madman, Patient No. The story the man tells is of winding up in 'Kappaland', a whole different world into which he fell as he chased a Kappa while on a mountain-climbing excursion. Kappas are familiar from Japanese folklore, i. The average Kappa is about three feet and weighs twenty to thirty pounds. Their distinctive feature is: "the oval-shaped saucer to be found on top of its head", which hardens with age.