1895 (pub): Kawachi-Mura and the Kappa's Promise
A long time ago the little village of Kawachi-mura -- which is located about a mile and a half from Matsue in Shimane Prefecture and is on the banks of the river Kawachi -- was plagued by a dangerous kappa that seemed to delight in seizing and drowning villagers and animals that it caught off guard in the river. One day, however, the kappa had an accident... while trying to grab a horse that had stepped into the river to get a drink, the kappa got it's head twisted up in the horse's belly band. When the animal panicked and ran ashore, the kappa was dragged helplessly along with it to the middle of a field. The horse's owner was the headman of the village, and he along with several other villagers quickly bound up the helpless water monster before it could get free.
All the villagers crowded to get a look at the kappa. The pitiful kappa bowed deeply and begged for forgiveness, realizing it's life now depended on the very people it had been terrorizing... and the villagers did very much want to kill the kappa and end it's threat forever. The headman of the village, however, had a different idea. "It is better to make it swear never again to touch any person or animal belonging to Kawachi-mura," he stated. A formal document to such effect was written and then read to the kappa; and though the kappa could not write, it agreed to the terms and pressed an ink handprint by way of a signature onto the document, after which it was set free again. The document was enshrined in a small temple called the Kawako-no-Miya, the "Temple of the River Child," and from that time forward the kappa never again attacked an inhabitant or animal of the village.