Origin : Japan
Made of : porcelain - potery
Classification : things / other things
Maker : ?
About "kappa" (kappa - 河童) :
Kappa are legendary creatures from the Japanese folklore. Kappa live in rivers and have a kind of human body with a strange bird/tortoise face. They behave quite like humans and can even speak. Kappas are rather nasty creatures which can even eat children. These legends frighten children and prevent them from playing too close to rivers.
In Tokyo, close to the area of Asakusa, a road called kappabashi (bridge of kappa) is decorated with pictures of the kappa. A local small temple is devoted to the kappa and offerings of cucumbers are made as it's a vegetable kappas seem to like. In the temple you can see what is presented as a mummified hand of a kappa.
About "giant catfish" (namazu - 鯰) :
Namazu is a mythological giant catfish. He is kept in the mud beneath the earth by the god Kashima. When he escapes he causes devastating earthquakes.
On the 2nd of October 1855, a very big earthquake shaked Tokyo. People believed that it happened because Kashima was no more garding Namazu as, according to tradition, all the gods are away gathering in the shrine of Izumo at this time of the year('kannazuki').
Immediately after the earthquake, artists created special woodblock prints called namazu-e which were bought by people to get the protection of Kashima.