河童ときゅうり (kappa to kyūri)
kappa and cucumber
These tops depict a kappa and a cucumber. Kappa are yōkai (supernatural creatures) from traditional Japanese folklore. Kappa are typically depicted as somewhat humanoid and the size of a child, although sometimes they can appear more like birds or turtles. They are said to live in rivers and ponds, where they cause mischief, occasionally kidnapping or drowning people or animals. Sometimes they are depicted as balancing a bowl or plate of water on their heads, which is a technique they supposedly use to travel outside of their watery homes. Even today, some areas of Japan will have signs near rivers warning people about kappa. According to legend, kappa love to eat cucumbers in particular, which can sometimes be given to them to form a friendship. In some cases, people will write their names on cucumbers and toss them into kappa-infested waters as a form of protection, or will eat cucumbers before going swimming. Kappa may also be considered friendly or helpful, helping humans with water-related tasks like irrigation or fishing. For this top, Hiroi-sensei has played with the image of kappa bearing things on their heads (such as the bowl of water) by putting a cucumber on the kappa’s head.