hoːɽaisaɴ kagɯja (♫)
Kaguya Houraisan in Imperishable Night
More Character Titles
Manipulation of eternity and the instantaneous
Ageless, existed for at least 1300 years. Stated by ZUN (drunkenly) to be hundreds of millions of years old.
Unknown, currently in hiding, formerly a moon princess.
Kaguya Houraisan (蓬莱山 輝夜 Houraisan Kaguya) was once a princess of the Lunarians, a race of people living on the Moon. Due to illegally creating the Hourai Elixir with Eirin Yagokoro, they ended up living on Earth and what would eventually be Gensokyo. She is currently the princess of Eientei.
Kaguya has a rather carefree personality. She apparently is refined in the art of conversation, but her spoken language is a bit dated.  In Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, she's depicted as a terrible cook, and as innocent and naïve.
- Manipulating eternity and the instantaneous
Eternity is namely immutability, and it can be said that eternity rejects all change. Things that possess eternity indefinitely don't change, and also cannot be interfered by things outside of it. Counting from when Kaguya came to Gensokyo, she has lived hidden away definitely for hundreds of years, but until the eternal night incident, she continued having an existence in the interior of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost without anybody knowing about them. Also, the pure Japanese-style building Eientei can be seen not to have worn out at all, which can be said to (have been) due to this ability of eternity. At least as of now, since for Eientei, the change of "others coming to visit" so to speak, has become an ordinary daily occurrence, it has already become non-eternal.
Incidentally, as the Hourai Elixir made by Kaguya's ability of eternity is something that makes the consumer have a "body that rejects all change", it can't simply be said to be a kind of maximised, self-healing ability (due to this, it's said that a the whole-body can recover from a single hair, as for Fujiwara no Mokou). In the last spell card "End of Imperishable Night" which used this ability, it destroyed Reimu Hakurei and the others' spell of eternity, and forcibly called for dawn (End of Imperishable Night -Rising World-, where "Rising World" was a homophone to "dawn" as "yoake" (夜明け)).
With "instantaneous", it's namely the gaps, the instant that's impossible to recognise the existence of anything else. Kaguya, in being able to manipulate the instantaneous, is able to mish-mash the needed "instants" and make them her own time. However, whatever she gathers together, since the fact that they're the "unrecognisable instant" can't be changed, she has no means of knowing what's within the instant. For this reason, in manipulating the instantaneous, Kaguya's able to spend "time the same as others'" and "time different from others'" simultaneously. Hieda no Akyuu presented this as "having parallel timelines at the same time." In the nineteenth chapter of Silent Sinner in Blue, as the instantaneous is the smallest unit of time, time is able to accumulate countless instants. Watatsuki no Toyohime explained that to see time as continuous is due to the inability to recognise the instant.
Since her ability can be said to be the ability to manipulate "complete stop = eternity" and "extreme speed-up = instant", Akyuu also summarised it as an "ability to manipulate time". This seems very similar to Sakuya Izayoi's "ability to manipulating time".
Over a thousand years ago, Kaguya was born in the royal house of the Moon and was treated with utmost care as a princess. However, she got selfish, and managed to get Eirin Yagokoro to create the Hourai Elixir out of self-interest and consumed it. This was illegal, and she was executed. She was immortal, so therefore she was executed many times; this was impossible, so she instead was exiled to Earth and forced to live among filthy humans as punishment. She was found by a bamboo cutter and dwelt among the humans she had once despised. Though the Lunarians looked upon humans with contempt, Kaguya came to love her new home. She enjoyed her life on Earth for a while without problems, but as rumours of her beauty spread far and wide, she started to feel bad about it. Tales of her unearthly beauty led men from all across the land to seek her hand in marriage, Fujiwara no Mokou's father being one of them, but none could successfully complete her trial of the Five Impossible Requests.
The first was to bring her the stone begging bowl of the Buddha from India. The second was to retrieve a jeweled branch from the island of Mount Hourai. The third was to seek the legendary robe of the fire-rat of China. The fourth was to retrieve a colored jewel from a dragon's neck. The final task was to find the legendary Cowry treasure of the swallows. These potent treasures were eventually revealed to already be in Kaguya's possession in the final stage of Imperishable Night.
After years of exile, powerful emissaries arrived from the Moon; Kaguya had been forgiven of her crime and it had been decided that she should return. Kaguya, however, had grown to love life on Earth and had no desire to return to the lunar capital permanently, which was far more emotional than the life she had on the Moon. Even so, Earth was filthy and life on Earth had its share of problems. She was torn between Earth and the moon, but she discovered Eirin to be an emissary. Eirin was apologetic to Kaguya since she wasn't punished for creating the elixir. Her desire for redemption was so strong that she was ready to do anything for Kaguya, so she decided to live on Earth with Kaguya. Eirin betrayed the other emissaries and helped Kaguya escape and fled to what would eventually be Gensokyo. Taking refuge in an ancient manor called Eientei hidden deep within the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, the two Lunarians began a new exile.
After a very long time, the Moon was no longer sending emissaries to fetch them; they had forgotten about the past and were living in peace. One day, an event took place that made them recall the past, a century since Gensokyo was sealed. On that day, a self-claimed Moon rabbit name Reisen Udongein Inaba ran into their home, who come because she heard rumours about Gensokyo. She then stated that humans are invading the Moon, sticking a flag, the American flag, on the moon and are acting like the moon belongs to them, becoming nearly impossible for people of the Moon to live there.The rabbit had escaped from the front line of a war, leaving her allies behind. Kaguya remembered that she, too, was a Lunarian long ago, and they decided to allow Reisen to live with them. After several centuries of isolation, she was eventually reunited with Mokou, who had also used the Hourai Elixir to become immortal, and the two continued their feud, murdering each other on a nearly daily basis.
A few decades have passed since then. On one night of a full Moon, Reisen received a transmission from other surviving moon rabbits, stating that a new war will be starting soon and Reisen needs to return. She doesn't want to, so Kaguya and Eirin defended her, but if they kill the emissaries, they'll have to go into hiding for a long time again. Eventually, Eirin came up with a plan to replace the real Moon with a fake one, thus making it no longer possible to travel between Earth and the Moon. Their only mistake was underestimating the power of Gensokyo's natives, who rely on the power of the moon, which is the incident of Imperishable Night. In the end, humans and youkai succeeded in dispelling the fake moon, and Gensokyo was already sealed by the Great Hakurei Barrier', so the Lunarians wouldn't have been able to enter Gensokyo to begin with. Kaguya, Eirin and Reisen were enjoying their peaceful life in Gensokyo.
Kaguya, and the whole of Imperishable Night, is inspired by the Japanese legend of the Moon Princess, also known as the The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, sometimes called the legend of "Kaguya-hime" (Princess Kaguya).
Kaguya Houraisan (蓬莱山 輝夜) is her name. Her first name Kaguya (輝夜), means "shining night", "sparkling night", or "radiant night". Kaguya is also the name of a Japanese lunar-orbiting probe launched in September 2007 as part of Project SELENE to map the moon's surface.
Houraisan (蓬莱山) refers to "Mount Hourai". And indeed, to not only be able to find the location and survive the impossible perils of ascending Mount Hourai (a legendary place filled with powerful youkai, hermits, and other supernatural beings of every kind), but to also be able to enjoy a beautiful evening there, likely with some traditional Moon Viewing, would be to experience a truly otherworldly beauty: a shining night on Mount Hourai. Mount Hourai (Penglai in Chinese) is the name of a legendary mountain that floats above the sea. Its inhabitants were said to possess, among other treasures, the elixir of immortality. It was also the destination of one of Kaguya-hime's impossible tasks.
Kaguya is shown to have dark brown eyes and very long black hair in a hime cut style. She wears a pink shirt with many white bows, and a long, dark burgundy skirt decorated in yellow with bamboo and flower shapes. Her 5 Impossible Requests are seen floating around her, probably waiting for her order to engage in a spell card attack.
- Imperishable Night
During the events of Imperishable Night, Kaguya had been hidden in a secret pathway along with the true moon by Eirin to ensure any Lunarians sent to recover Reisen Udongein Inaba wouldn't discover her. The heroines of Imperishable Night, however, did discover her, and challenged her to return the full moon to Gensokyo. After being defeated, Kaguya unleashed her powers of eternity in an all-out bid to break the spell of the imperishable night cast by the heroines. Finally she relented and the true moon was recovered.
She now spends her days living in Eientei in a carefree manner, sometimes holding exhibitions of Lunarian treasures there for the rest of Gensokyo to admire. Her long isolation has made her lonely, and she enjoys telling stories to any guests she might receive.
- Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom
Kaguya is shown in the backstory of Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom. She knew that the moon rabbits from the Lunar Capital will come to Gensokyo and purify Earth. Both her and Eirin Yagokoro know that humans can't compete against the enemy, so Eirin has created a medicine just for this occasion.
- Shoot the Bullet
- Hopeless Masquerade
Kaguya made a background cameo appearance in Hopeless Masquerade on the Human Village stage. She's seen sitting with Tewi Inaba, Eirin Yagokoro and Reisen Udongein Inaba, where she'll occasionally close her eyes and fall sleep.
- Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red
- Strange and Bright Nature Deity
- Touhou Bougetsushou
- Forbidden Scrollery
Eirin is Kaguya's servant and friend. She's also the one who made the Hourai Elixir for Kaguya, and when sent to Earth to bring her back on the Moon, she killed the other emissaries and helped Kaguya hiding herself. Now she serves Kaguya faithfully at Eientei.
- Reisen Udongein Inaba (Fellow Exile, Pet)
- Tewi Inaba (Allied Earth Rabbit)
Mokou and Kaguya aren't on the best of terms. They'll fight to the death every chance they get. However, in Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, Kaguya and Mokou's relationship seems much more casual instead, though that might be due to the carefree attitude of the author.
Cover of Imperishable Night, featuring Kaguya's silhouette
Kaguya's sigil from the Grimoire of Marisa
Illustration of Kaguya in Mokou's article from Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red
Kaguya in Strange and Bright Nature Deity
Kaguya in Silent Sinner in Blue
Kaguya in Inaba of the Moon & Inaba of the Earth
Kaguya on the Chapter 1 cover of Cage in Lunatic Runagate
Kaguya on the Chapter 2 cover of Cage in Lunatic Runagate
Kaguya in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense
Kaguya and Eirin cameo in Extra of the Wind
- A silhouette of Kaguya occupies the front of Imperishable Night's jewel case.
- Kaguya has a larger spell card arsenal than either Remilia Scarlet or Yuyuko Saigyouji and attacks confidently and without hesitation in the actual game. In addition, considering she was scrapped from Touhou Hisoutensoku for being overpowered, Kaguya being weaker than other bosses might not necessarily be true. Indeed, if one takes the Final A route in Imperishable Night, it's actually Kaguya who aids Eirin for Eirin's final spell card.
- It can be conjectured that Mokou and Kaguya's rivalry symbolizes for the cycle of the Sun and the Moon: Kaguya, the Lunar Princess, and Mokou, who uses as an in-game avatar a fire bird that strongly resembles a phoenix.
- Kaguya was planned to debut as a playable character in Touhou Hisoutensoku, but was scrapped from the lineup due to time constraints. ZUN stated in an interview that her moveset as initially designed would have been overpowered and unbalanced the game and there wasn't enough time to properly balance her strength against the other characters (coincidentally, the same issue was encountered with Mokou, who was also intended to be playable in the game).
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