Why is the cucumber roll called Kappa?
Have you ever wondered why a cucumber roll at a Japanese or Sushi restaurant is called a kappa roll? Most people assume kappa is the Japanese word for cucumber but this isn’t the case. Kyuri is the Japanese word for cucumber and on this episode we’ll take a look at the origins of the kappa roll.
First off for those of you who haven’t been to a sushi restaurant or have never had a kappa roll or kappa maki, it’s the most basic, and quite honestly least desired roll at a Japanese restaurant. It’s only served as a means to clear the palate so the distinct flavors of the sushi or raw fish can be tasted clearly. It’s simply rice and cucumber wrapped with seaweed. Believe it or not the kappa roll goes all the way back to Japanese mythology and folklore. A kappa or kawataro is a yokai demon or water imp found in traditional Japanese folklore. These hideous creatures are depicted having long hair with a bald patch on top that is filled with a pool of water. They are almost portrayed as reptilian sporting a turtle shell and are seen as mischievous troublemakers or tricksters. So how does this all relate to a cucumber sushi roll?
The kappa’s favorite traditional meal is cucumber. Their love for this vegetable is so strong it’s written in Japanese folklore that they will sometimes befriend humans if presented cucumbers. It’s said they enjoy cucumber so much that it’s the only food they enjoy more than human children. The kappa is an aquatic creature that would be lured by throwing cucumbers into the water. Once a kappa chowed down on this tasty green vegetable they could be coerced into doing things for a human like helping farmers irrigate their land or bring in fresh fish. Because of the unrivaled dedication to this vegetable, the cucumber maki or cucumber roll was named after the water imp or kappa. Now this might seem ridiculous and well quite frankly it is but that’s Japanese folklore. What we’ve covered here on the kappa doesn’t even scratch the surface of how weird it gets. Apparently they are obsessed with butts, human butts, love to sumo wrestle and are excellent at farting.
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