1955 (pub): Wrestling Match

The following short tale was collected in 1955 by Prof. Teigo Yoshida, who heard it in the farm village Nao, in the Saga Prefecture of Japan.

        Once upon a time, there was a strong man named Goro who met a kappa by a stream, and began to wrestle with the creature. The kappa was much stronger than even Goro, however, so the strong man almost was defeated. Goro told the kappa that he had become hungry, and wanted to go get a quick meal of rice; he also assured the kappa that their wrestling match would continue after his snack. The kappa agreed to wait, so Goro trotted home to get his food.

        Goro had no rice at home but he found some rice that was being offered to deities at a nearby Buddhist temple, so he ate that instead. Then he hurried back to the stream where the kappa was waiting for him, and their wrestling match started up again. This time, though, it was clear that Goro was far stronger than the kappa... soon Goro pinned the kappa, which caused the water to drain from the bowl on its head; and so Goro won the match.

Sacred Rice Good!

        This has a similar theme to another kappa tale in which sacred rice helps decide the battle; so I suspect that the real story being told here is that the Buddhist offering transfered some sacred power to Goro, thus making him stronger. So it's a suggestion of one way to deal with supernatural threats in Japan.