Strange Creators of Outer World/Who's Who of Humans & Youkai in Gensokyo/Nitori Kawashiro

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Who's Who of Humans & Youkai in Gensokyo
Nitori Kawashiro
Places of Activity:
Youkai Mountain (Genbu Ravine)
Main Abilities:
Capable of manipulating water
Making and selling tools
妖怪の技術屋集団 The Youkai Engineer Group
にとりは河童だ。他の河童たちと同じく、妖怪の山にある玄武の沢を住処にしている。「風神録」3面に初登場し、山を訪れた霊夢へ危険を伝えにきたが、相手が異変解決モードだったため、とりあえず倒された。 Nitori is a kappa. Like the other kappa, she lives in the Genbu Ravine at the Youkai Mountain. She first appears in "Mountain of Faith" stage 3, where she warns Reimu of the Youkai Mountain's dangers, and is swiftly defeated because Reimu's in incident resolution mode.
河童は主に水を操る程度の能力を持つほか、「通背」、つまり両腕が繋がっているおかげで腕が伸縮自在だと言われる。だが、そういった妖怪としての所与の能力以上に、彼女らは手先が器用なことで知られている。特に道具作成の技術が発達していて、そのレベルは外の世界に肉薄しているという。 Kappa generally have the ability to manipulate water, as well as a trait called tsuuhai, where their arms are said to be connected and thus can stretch freely. However, kappa are much more well-known for their dexterity than they are for these natural abilities as a youkai. Their tool-engineering technology is particularly advanced, and is said to be neck-and-neck with the Outside World.
また、自ら作成した道具を販売しに行く機会が多いからなのか、商売の機運に敏感である。幻想郷ではちょっとした行事や催しものの現場で屋台を出す河童たちがよく見かけられる。 Also, possibly because they often sell the tools they make, they have a keen sense for financial opportunities. Kappa in Gensokyo can often be seen running stalls at small festivals or entertainment events.
妖怪の序列? A Hierarchy of Youkai?
妖怪の山を住処とする妖怪たちは、ほかの地域に住む妖怪たちとは大きく異なる特徴がある。それは、彼女らが種族ごとにコミュニティを築いて生活しているということだ。だいたいの妖怪たちが自由気ままに暮らすなか、山の妖怪たちは集団を組織化して官僚制的なヒエラルキー社会を築いている。 The youkai living on the Youkai Mountain have one major difference from those living in other regions: they reside in distinct communities based on species. While the majority of youkai spend their lives however they like, the mountain youkai have formed organizations and built a bureaucratic, hierarchial society.
河童(と天狗)は、まさに集団化された妖怪の代表例と言えるだろう。また、現在はまれにしか姿を見かけない鬼たちも、もとは山のヒエラルキーの頂点に君臨していたので、「鬼>天狗>河童」という図式がある。こういう古くからの種族間ヒエラルキーにも敏感で、上位の者に対しては腰が低い。 Kappa (and tengu) are prime examples of youkai communities. Though they're only rarely seen nowadays, oni used to reign from the top of the mountain's hierarchy as well; the relationship can be illustrated as "Oni > Tengu > Kappa". Kappa have a keen sense of these traditional species hierarchies as well, and are humble when interacting with those above them.
もちろん腰の低さはあくまで表面上のもので、服従していたり支配されていたりするわけではないが、強力な妖怪相手にわざわざ面倒事を起こさないことが河童の知恵なのだろう。 Of course, this humility is only surface-level. Though they may not be outright subjugated or controlled by those above them, kappa are smart enough to avoid starting unnecessary trouble with stronger youkai.
Comment from ZUN Comment from ZUN
急に神様じゃなくなるんだけど、妖怪の山に入るから妖怪が出てこなきゃなって。そしてわかりやすい妖怪といえば河童と天狗、と3面・4面は決まりましたよね。僕がいまさら言うことはあまりないんだけど、ここで出てくる河童は渡来人がテーマというか海外から来た技術者たちだったんじゃないか、河原に住んでいたんじゃないかなって。だから幻想郷からみたら未知の技術が使える集団にしています。 And suddenly it's not a god, but since you're entering Youkai Mountain I needed to use youkai. So I settled on easy to understand youkai, kappa and tengu, to be the stage 3 and 4 bosses. I don't have much to say about it this late in the game, but I believe the kappa who show up here were based on immigrants from the continent... craftsmen who came from overseas, you know? And they would have lived on riverbanks, as it were.[1] So I made them into a group that uses unknown technology from Gensokyo's perspective.

  1. In keeping with this issue's articles on Hidden Star in Four Seasons, this is potentially a reference to historical outcast communities in Japan, some of whom lived along riverbanks.