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Kasen Ibaraki in Wild and Horned Hermit
More Character Titles
Unknown, posing as a Hermit
Understanding what birds say, crushing vengeful spirits, instant movement, using animals, remote control of artificial arms, connecting separate spaces, guiding and transfiguring youkai, hiding her home using fangshu, creating and controlling light orbs
Kasen Ibaraki (茨木 華扇 Ibaraki Kasen) (with pseudonyms Ibarakasen (茨華仙) and Kasen (華仙)) is a mysterious self-proclaimed hermit living in the mountains. Possessing an artificial arm and various abilities, she can often be seen dispensing knowledge to Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame, and Sanae Kochiya. She's the protagonist of Wild and Horned Hermit.
- 1 General Information
- 2 Backstory
- 3 Character Design
- 4 Kasen's Species
- 5 Story
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Additional Information
- 8 Fandom
- 9 Official Profiles
- 10 Official Sources
- 11 References
Kasen is kind and polite to nearly everyone. She is always willing to lend a word of advice or teach a lesson, but is often seen as preachy and overly critical of others.
When she informed Reimu Hakurei about what she can do, she answered "secret" and "I can do various things", but since in her character settings and captions there have been no explanations about her abilities, and what ability she possesses is unclear. Although there are several things that can be seen as ability-like, it's not definite whether the ones listed below are because of an "ability to <do something>" or if it is an innate ability of her race, or if it is a kind of sorcery that hermits can learn as mentioned in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense.
- Guiding of animals
Kasen is able to communicate with animals, including cryptids, beast youkai and dragons, along with having a great deal of knowledge about them. She knows the antidotes to obscure venoms, as well as the processes that lead an animal to become various types of youkai and how to affect them. She also employs a number of trained animals as servants, whom she can apparently summon to her side. In addition to regular animals like monkeys, snakes and birds, Kasen and Reimu rode on the back of the Unnamed Dapeng, and is even able to use such uncommon creatures like the children of dragons. Especially concerning the children of dragons, she even said, "whatever I say, they will listen". According to Komachi, the employment of animals is Kasen's signature move.
On the official site, it was stated that she possessed the ability to guide animals, but since it was not stated as "ability to guiding animals", it is probably not an ability name.
- Artificial arm
Kasen's bandaged right arm is secretly an artificial one, apparently consisting of vapourous black smoke, and Kasen is capable of remotely control it and detaching it to act independently. Her arm is also capable of crushing vengeful spirits, removing them from the cycle of reincarnation entirely; Komachi Onozuka appears unsure how exactly Kasen does this. Of note, her arm is blown apart when it touches the Hakurei Yin-Yang Orb, implying that it has youkai properties.
- To guide and transfigure youkai
It was shown in chapter 16 of Oriental Sacred Place that she herself said that she admonished the yamainu who attacked humans and turned them into youkai, gave a recommendation to be a youkai whose stomach is satisfied even without attacking humans, and transfigured the human-protecting youkai into an okuri-inu. Afterwards, the yamainu, who was actually transfigured into a protective dog, in order to protect humans, drove away the Three Fairies of Light who were scheming mischief.
When Kasen said that she did something to the yamainu and hoisted her bandaged right arm in a meaningful manner, even Luna Child felt a sense of doubt that a human-eating beast would listen to preaching, so therefore it's probably not simply due to preaching, but a kind of ability. Of course, this could possibly just be a part of her ability to use animals.
- To hide her home using fangshu
The ability Kasen uses is probably just one part of fangshu, but since a general ability to use fangshu has not been stated, presently, it is only this ability. Using this sorcery, in order to finally reach Kasen's hidden house, it is necessary to use a special path. Even when it is a blizzard outside, only around her house snow doesn't fall, protecting its calm, which Marisa compared to as being another world.
After the incident in Ten Desires, Toyosatomimi no Miko and Mononobe no Futo created another world called Senkai and moved there, but it is not known whether or not the sorcery that Kasen used to hide her home and the sorcery used to create Senkai are of the same kind.
- Hermit arts: While she may or may not be a real hermit, Kasen has used the common hermit technique of hiding her dwelling place, preventing anyone from reaching it unless they follow a specific (regularly changed) route.
- Creating light orbs: In chapter 10 of Wild and Horned Hermit Kasen creates orbs of light from her right hand that last for a long time move them by mere thought. This appears to be a generic application of mystic power, rather than a specific ability of Kasen's. Since she can freely use light orbs of the size and number she wants, it an be seen that she used a massive quantity of small ones as well as single big ones.
- Instant movement: In the second chapter, she appeared in the background of the offertory box in the Hakurei Shrine without warning, surprising Sanae Kochiya who came to visit. It has not been specified what range of distance she is able to move, or if she can move anywhere. Also, in the seventh chapter, she performed a movement such that she was in the background of the offertory box without being noticed.
- To connect separate spaces: This was shown at the same time as the aforementioned remote control of artificial arms. Upon inserting her artificial arm beneath her apron, a detached artificial arm appeared in a separate place. In this state, upon seizing something and bringing it back, the seized object was also withdrawn together from beneath her apron.
- To understand what birds say: In the first chapter when Kasen visited the Hakurei Shrine, she heard the birds making a clamor about the discovery of one arm of a mummy.
- To crush vengeful spirits: She is able to crush vengeful spirits with her right arm wrapped in bandages. Since Komachi Onozuka does not even know how Kasen does it, it is not because all hermits can do it. Also, it seems that the crushed vengeful spirits are annihilated and are taken out of the cycle of reincarnation.
Kasen owns the Ibaraki Box of a Hundred Medicines, which cures all illnesses or heals any injuries to the person who drinks from it.
One Armed, Horned
Concerning the "one armed" in her title, her usual appearance is with two arms. However, when Reimu Hakurei seized her right arm, as if she was defeated by Reimu's grasping power, it bent flabbily, and in the gaps of the bandages leaked out some smoke. Combined with the instance when she seemed to be looking for an arm, Kasen has originally lost her right arm, so she might have possibly used a kind of sorcery to use bandages to help.
When this arm touched with Reimu's Yin-Yang Orb, the right arm responded violently and scattered away. The principles behind this unknown, but Kasen immediately reconstructed the annihilated right arm. As the yin-yang orb is the shintai of the shrine blessed with exterminating youkai, she said something the main point of which was that carelessly touching it is dangerous, and since Kasen is a youkai or similar to youkai, it can be thus seen that the power which Kasen uses to make her right arm is of such (youkai) power. In chapter 16, she states that if she stopped drinking from the "Ibaraki Box of a Hundred Medicines", her arm will rot.
Concerning the "horned" in her title, at least in the range of what can be seen, nothing horn-like can be confirmed. Since she has chignon caps that could possibly hide them, it is currently unknown if they really are there.
Little is known about Kasen's history so far, other than that she seems to be hiding some secret which Suika Ibuki is either privy to or related to. However, a newspaper article in Symposium of Post-mysticism shows that she has been a hermit at Youkai Mountain since at least 1980, if not earlier. It is known that Kasen lost her arm at some point in the past and replaced it with a artificial one.
Kasen is probably based on the oni Ibaraki-doji. Ibaraki-doji was one of the oni who had headquarters on Mt. Ooe and broke into Japan on a rampage. Although Ibaraki-doji was a subordinate to Shuten-doji (who Suika Ibuki is likely to be based on) who was a typically leader, there are also theories that Ibaraki-doji was the daugher of Shuten-doji, or as Ibaraki-doji might be a female oni, there was also a theory that she was his lover. At any rate, Ibaraki-doji seems different from the other big four subordinates and seems to have a special relation with Shuten-doji.
At any rate, when the crew of Shuten-doji and the others were exterminated simultaneously by Minamoto no Yorimitsu, Ibaraki-doji fought with one of his allies Watanabe no Tsuna without falling into a deep sleep, but upon seeing Shuten-doji being defeated and deciding that he/she was no match, fled.
The survivor Ibaraki-doji assailed humans once again afterwards, and in doing so, even assailed Watanabe no Tsuna. However, when Tsuna turned the tables and cut off one arm, Ibaraki-doji once again took flight.
Although she introduces herself in Wild and Horned Hermit as Ibarakasen (茨華仙), or Kasen (華仙) for short, this is merely her pseudonym; her real name is Kasen Ibaraki (茨木 華扇 Ibaraki Kasen); note the different spellings of "Kasen". Her family name, Ibaraki (茨木) could mean "rose bush", while Kasen (華扇) is written with the characters for "flower fan". The name Ibaraki is also likely a reference to Ibaraki-dōji.
In her pseudonym, 茨 (ibara) refers to a thorny wild rose, hence the rose brooch and thorn motif on her dress. The character 華 (ka) means "flower", "petal" or "beauty", while 仙 (sen) is the first character of hermit (and its Chinese reading is the Chinese word for hermit). Thus "Ibarakasen" could translate roughly as "Rose-flower hermit".
In her original appearance, she has red eyes, and shoulder-length pink hair with Chinese-style double buns. Her right arm is wrapped in bandages. She wears a white shirt and a green skirt, over those a brown front panel that has a thorny vine motif and a large rose-shaped ornament just below collar level. She also appears to have a shackle on her left wrist.
It's been said on many occasions that Kasen is a hermit. However, from things suggested by her own speech and conduct, there's a theory that Kasen is not truly a hermit. However, there are also several things that seem like she has the existence of a hermit, and so there is presently not enough information to be definitive. Also, due to having a possibility of been based on Ibaraki Douji, having something that would seem like horns, and things that are symbolic of oni in the Touhou Project like the chains and shackles, there is a strong orientation towards the consideration that Kasen is an oni. Here, examples for both sides are presented.
Regarding the characters they were apparently based on, Ibaraki Douji was a direct subordinate of Shuten Douji, and since Hoshikuma Douji (the one Yuugi is probably based on, and was also one of the "big four" subordinates of Shuten Douji) would thereby have the same standpoint, this suggests that Kasen is one of the "big four".
Her own sayings
In chapter 2, when Sanae said, "as expected of a hermit" as a word of admiration, Kasen then began to say, "even living as a hermit like this, I am just a..." and then in a rush, shut her mouth. If one takes this to be frank, then Kasen is only in a hermit's clothing, and to call herself a hermit would also be a lie. In this, Kasen said, "by driving away the envoys of hell, I have lived several times more than humans," and on this point, it has a consistency with what is mentioned in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense regarding hermits. If this is related, if Kasen is a kind of youkai, especially if she is an oni, there is an opinion that even if she would have no hermit-style means of driving away assassins from hell. Species-wise, there's a possibility that she has lived even longer than humans.
As stated previously, there is a suspicion that Kasen might be an oni. In reality, although in the legends and classics, there were frequently hermits who had human origins, and although there is a theory that Kasen is an oni who became hermit, according to Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, hermits are something that humans become, and in the worldview of the Touhou Project, there are presently nothing that shows that non-humans can become hermits. Some of her behaviour suggests that like her namesake she is actually an oni and/or a member of the Big Four of the Mountain, but the truth of her past is currently a mystery.
Also, when Reimu in Chapter 9 of Wild and Horned Hermit declares that she will exterminate anything that isn't human, the remark is immediately followed by a scene of Kasen sneezing and wondering why she feels a chill. In Japan, it's a common myth that when a person sneezes and feels an ominous feeling, it's because someone else said something that could be referring to them. This would heavily imply that Kasen is not human.
In Chapter 16, Sanae Kochiya asked why Kasen was drinking a lot of sake from the "Ibaraki Box of a Hundred Medicines" with a suspicious look, where Kasen was quick to answer that because her arm will never heal and thus without the box it'll rot. Also in the same chapter, it's revealed that Suika Ibuki knows her true form and states that she's pretending to be a hermit.
In chapter 21, Kasen reacts weirdly when Reimu throws some beans at her, and Komachi Onozuka bursts into laughter after Reimu invites Kasen at throwing beans during setsubun, declaring that it would be hilarious if she did something like this. Kasen says that while she doesn't mind about setsubun itself, she thinks that she would never get used to mamemaki (the bean-throwing ritual). She also explains that she has some kind of psychological weakness to it, and that her body would start shaking when beans are thrown at her. Mamemaki being one of the Oni's weaknessess, it could be yet another hint of Kasen having oni origins.
According to something Reimu said in the first chapter and Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, appearance-wise hermits look like aged. Among this, as Kasen has a juvenile appearance; this is the basis that her existence is different from that of an ordinary hermit. However, in Ten Desires, the appearance-wise young hermit Seiga Kaku appeared, so this doesn't mean that all hermits need to appear aged, and also revealed that not only Kasen has an exceptional existence.
Kasen is able to use fangshu (方術). Fangshu is an art used by Taoist immortals, and according to Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, hermits are able to learn sorcery, probably pointing towards fangshu. As Kasen is able to use this kind of sorcery, Kasen would thus have a close existence to that of hermits, so it probably isn't that she has no relation to hermits.
According to Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, pretty much all hermits who have passed five hundred years of age don't need food, and simply ingesting fog or haze will be enough. However, Kasen ordinarily does eat food, and other than in chapter 2 when she proposed having hot pot, there was a scene in chapter 7 when she ate dango. Also, in chapter 10, when the stranded Marisa Kirisame strayed into her home, she treated her to something like nikuman, which can lead one to guess that in ordinary times, she usually has a supply of food in her home. Even if for argument's sake, she has not reached the age of five hundred, it can be said to be a non-hermit-like trait.
- Wild and Horned Hermit
Kasen meets Marisa Kirisame outside the Human Village as the latter was running an errand for Reimu Hakurei. In the beginning, she appears to be nothing but a simple, strange ascetic, but it's all a guise. Her real motive for appearing at the Hakurei Shrine is to search for the Kappa's Arm, thought by her to be at the Hakurei Shrine. Second, according to her, her objective is to shut down the connection between humans and the Former Hell. What that means is unclear, but she takes great interest in the runaway evil spirits at the Underground Geyser Center, and is able to destroy them with her bandaged arm which, when unwrapped, takes the form of black ash or smoke. This brings her to the attention of Komachi Onozuka, whose superiors are concerned about Kasen's movements. As she continues to act in secret, she also attempts to teach Reimu, Sanae Kochiya, and Marisa how to be better people, investigates and wraps herself up in various small time incidents, and introduces Reimu and the others to her power to control various beasts.
Kasen remembers Reimu Hakurei from long before, having visited the Hakurei Shrine many times in the past, although Reimu's memory failed her and she had to be reminded who Kasen was. She's mostly earned Reimu's annoyance, who dislikes sermons and doesn't want her shrine to smell of them. She mostly thinks of Kasen as a nagging, preachy busybody. However, Reimu often concedes, either because Kasen is usually right or she doesn't want to deal with her. Kasen is openly critical of Reimu, believing her to be too greedy and slack in her duties.
Initially thinking she was just a strange hermit, Marisa Kirisame also met Kasen some time before Wild and Horned Hermit and is the first to remember who she was. Once reunited, Kasen is invited by Marisa to visit more often, to the disdain of Reimu. Marisa hopes that Kasen will teach her any life extending techniques and is more than willing to listen to Kasen's preaching in exchange.
Kasen's pets include the Unnamed Dragon, Unnamed Dapeng, Unnamed Raijuu, Saouchi, Kanda and Kume. They're mostly cryptids who can be summoned at any time, such as when she called on the child dragon to abduct Reimu and used the dapeng for transportation. However, there was a point at which the raijuu she captured previously felt lonesome and ran away. She is also shown to have a snake and monkey.
Sanae Kochiya lives on the Youkai Mountain near to Kasen and are considered neighbors. They meet fairly often and are on friendly enough terms. Kasen is a bit critical of Sanae, as well, albeit to a much lesser extent than Reimu. Sanae describes her as living in a large mansion, corrected by Kasen as being a training dojo.
Despite being friendly enough with Sanae, she is highly suspicious of Kanako and Suwako's schemes to attain faith and their inability to handle the Underground Geyser Center's dangers.
Komachi Onozuka and Kasen are slightly antagonistic toward each other. Ordered to keep Kasen under surveillance, Komachi is distrusting of her, even to the point of threatening her with her scythe – although the death god doesn't appear to be serious about it.
When Suika Ibuki appeared at the Hakurei Shrine, Kasen quickly fled the scene in order to avoid her. She appears familiar with Suika, but her relationship with her is unknown, and she appears hesitant about letting Suika know about her current status. However, after learning that Kasen borrowed some sake from Yuugi, Suika realised that Kasen was planning something and decided to leave her alone. She also knows Kasen's true form.
- Kasen was one of the possibilities ZUN had in mind for the Extra Stage boss of Ten Desires, along with Byakuren Hijiri.
- Kasen is mentioned in Ten Desires' ending no.4 where it's explaining that Marisa heard from Kasen that the ultimate goal of Taoism is to achieve immortality.
- Kasen's title of "The One-armed Horned Hermit" (片腕有角の仙人) appears to be derived from the titular character of the Noh play "One-horned Hermit" (一角仙人 Ikkaku Sennin).
- From a historical perspective, the Noh play suggests that Kasen may not exactly be a hermit, but a rishika, a person who gives wisdom. They are different from hermits in that they are sometimes regarded as Buddhist saints.
- Kasen recites one of Miyako no Yoshika's poetry in her first appearance. According to legends, Ibaraki-douji was deeply impressed after reading Miyako no Yoshika's works.
- "キャラクター紹介 [Character Introduction]" (in Japanese). Ichijinsha. June 2011. http://www.ichijinsha.co.jp/special/toho_ibarakasen/.
- Oriental Sacred Place Chapter 16
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