Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Japanese
Authors: Akutagava, Riunoskė
ISBN: 9986-442-61-3
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2004
Publisher: Danielius

The story of the famous Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryuunosuke (1892 – 1927) “Kappa” is of fantasy genre. But that fantasy is as real as France’s penguins or Swift’s lilliputs. The Country of Kappa is similar and, at the same time, is different to Japan. Kappa (Japanese old folk characters, mermans) have their own country, financial attributes, culture, religion, and their own police. Everything is like in Japan. But there is no unemployment. The unemployed ones are simply killed here, and afterwards their bodies are eaten. To the kappa, the anger of the main character, who accidently comes to their county, is funny, because they see no difference in relations between both countries.

The main character is a patient of psychiatric hospital who is telling stories of his adventures in the Country of Kappa. When he was going through the woods, he noticed some kind of a beast, which looked like a tortoise, with the head of a monkey, but with a beak. The skin was covered with greenish-yellow pebbles, the arms and legs were webbed. He decided to follow that thing, and that’s how he found himself at The Country of Kappa. According to the rules of this place, guests of human world should be met as honorable guests. But the culture and politics surprise the main character.

As was said earlier, kappa has their own policies, values, religion and culture. There is no unemployment, law enforcement is somewhat weird, but kind of logical. The most surprising were their mating and giving birth traditions – females here hunt the males, and it’s a struggle to those who are caught. The giving birth process is the most interesting here – while in the womb, the fetus can refuse life as a Kappa and be aborted.

In the Country of Kappa there are Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and fire worshipers. However, the so-called “religion of life” has the biggest influence. The believers worship the “tree of life”, their God created the world in just one day, firstly he created a female, only after that he created a male from the brains of the female. They follow this rule: “Live, communicate, live as best as you can…” The Saints here are famous philosophers of our world, such as Wagner, Nietzsche, Zarathushtra and others.

The storyline of this story is sequential. At the very beginning there is an introduction that tells about the main character. The further text is divided into 14 chapters, each of which is about a different aspect of the life in that country. One of the chapters is dedicated to the book titled “The Words of a Fool”, published by the one of the character of the story, philosopher Maggu. And, to tell you the truth, there are some relatable things.

I personally like this book. It is quite small, an interesting story that somewhat reflects our society. You can analyze your life, look for negative aspects and try to make some kind of conclusions, while reading this book. This story is a parody, a sharp and ironic pamphlet against the degeneration of society.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU