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A Phantom sealed in a jar by Reimu and Marisa in Strange and Bright Nature Deity.

Phantom (幽霊 yuurei, lit. "faint spirit" or "dim spirit") refers to ghostly beings in Japanese folklore. A more general term encompassing phantoms is obake (お化け). They have also been referred to as "onibi" (鬼火, lit. "demon fire" or "spirit fire")[1]. Note that while they have concrete meanings in Touhou, in standard Japanese the difference between the terms yuurei (幽霊) and bourei (亡霊) is not well-defined.

Types of phantom


Phantoms (幽霊 yuurei) are the "standard" ghostly spirits which exist in both the living world and the various afterlife realms, which take the form of semi-tangible wisps similar in appearance to divine spirits and evil spirits. Phantoms include spirits of the deceased but can be born from humans who are not dead, non-human beings and even inanimate objects, and a single source can produce multiple phantoms; telling where a particular phantom came from is more or less impossible. Phantoms are cold to the touch, and a group of phantoms can reduce the surrounding temperature to freezing levels. A phantom who embodies a particular emotion will impress it on other beings around them, though for most phantoms the effects are not significant. Phantoms can also possess humans when their mental defences are low, causing their emotions to be affected until they receive an exorcism.

Ship Phantom

Ship phantoms (船幽霊 funayuurei) are ghosts of those who have drowned at sea. They use their ladles to sink boats.


Half-phantoms (半人半霊 hannin hanrei, half-human half-phantom) are a subspecies of phantom described as the "half-breeds" of phantom and human, who are neither truly alive nor dead (and can be considered a type of half-youkai). The only known half-phantoms are the members of the Konpaku family - Youmu Konpaku and Youki Konpaku. An individual of this species has two bodies, one resembling a human and the other resembling a phantom of above-average size. Their human half's body temperature is colder than that of normal humans, while the phantom half's body temperature is warmer than that of normal phantoms. Youmu claims that it is harder to detect their presence than that of either parent species. While they appear to be born and die like normal humans, their unusual nature results in a greatly extended lifespan. Members of this species lack two of the ten desires possessed by most beings ("attachment to life" and "envy of death"), making Toyosatomimi no Miko's ability less effective against them.


Main article: Ghost

Ghosts (亡霊 bourei) are corporeal spirits of the deceased, easily mistaken for living humans.

Dream Soul

Dream souls (夢魂 mukon) are physical manifestations of dreams. Under unusual circumstances a dream soul can exist outside of a person, in which case it takes on a form resembling a soap bubble (with nightmares being darker in colour than pleasant dreams). While it can pass through physical objects, a dream soul that comes in contact with a person will burst and transmit its dream to them, usually knocking them asleep in the process (or expelling their own dream soul, if they were already dreaming). It is possible to ensure pleasant dreams by sleeping with an object that contains pleasant dream souls under your pillow.[2] Doremy Sweet carries a pink blob which ZUN has described as a dream soul.[3]

Phantoms in Touhou

It is currently unknown if they have any need for food, sleep, physical pain, or other inconveniences of the living condition. What we know is that they like to party, eat, behave cryptically, continue doing the same activities the ones that are dead spirits enjoyed in life, and generally have a good time.

Although phantoms and poltergeists are usually thought of as same species, in actuality they are not, according to ZUN.

Within the safely guarded borders of the Netherworld, the phantoms live out the days of their afterlives pursuing whatever happens to come to mind. There are some vague hints about a chain of command that even the dead must follow, but it doesn't seem like specific details have been worked out. Phantoms are easily distracted.

The downside on being a phantom seems to be not having a real body. In fact, phantoms seem to be able to drink and eat because they're able to touch objects but they never have a feeling of satisfaction on it. But it still isn't obvious.

They appear to be quite common around Gensokyo. You can capture a phantom by sealing it within a jar or using a sotoba to attract it.

As Aya notes in Double Spoiler, boat usage in Gensokyo is very limited making spirits like ship phantoms unable to use their ship sinking abilities. She does mention that the Sanzu River may have many boats ready for sinkage.

Phantoms in Seihou

In the Seihou Project, phantoms have been shown to exist in the world of Seihou. Yuitia, currently the only example, died in an accident near Mars where her sleeping soul hasn't notice her own death and continued to wander around, eventually making her turn into a phantom. Whether phantoms in the Seihou Project follows the same scheme of how phantoms work in the Touhou Project is unknown.

Phantom's Appearances

Sprite of phantoms in various games


Phantoms (may also be referred to as spirits or other form of ghostly figure as there have been no official identification) appeared in Double Dealing Character and Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom as general stage enemies. Like other enemies, they'll shoot danmaku at the player character and the type and amount they shoot can depend on the game, stage and difficulty. Despite their exact design, they are not to be confused with vengeful spirits and divine spirits who are from Subterranean Animism and Ten Desires respectively; various indications suggests that the spirits in these two games are not the same.

Characters under this Bestiary

Touhou Project

Seihou Project

See Also

  1. HBM's wave start warnings
  2. Wild and Horned Hermit chapter 29
  3. Strange Creators of Outer World vol. 1: Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom interview with ZUN