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Touhou Project

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Touhou Project
to̞ːho̞ː pɺ̠o̞d͡ʑʲe̞ct, to̞ːho̞ː pɯᵝɺ̠o̞d͡ʑʲe̞kɯᵝto̞

Touhou Project logo

Years active


No. of Installments
  • 33 games
Official websites

The Touhou Project (東方Project), also 東方プロジェクト (Touhou Purojekuto) or Project Shrine Maiden, is a Japanese doujin game series that specialises in shoot 'em ups by sole Team Shanghai Alice member ZUN. Generally, it's a series of 2D (with 3D background) vertically-scrolling danmaku shooting games, that also creates related print works and music CDs. There are also seven spinoffs co-produced with Twilight Frontier, called "danmaku action games." The works of Touhou Project are sometimes called the Touhou Series (東方シリーズ Tōhō shirīzu) for convenience.

The Guinness World Records named the Touhou Project as the "world's most prolific fan-made shooter series."[1]

General Information

The setting of the Touhou Project lies in a haunted region of Japan called Gensokyo (幻想郷 Gensōkyō, lit. "Land of Illusions" or "Land of Fantasy"), sealed away from the outside world by the Great Hakurei Barrier. Reimu Hakurei is the protagonist of the project, who lives at the Hakurei Shrine that lies on the said barrier. She, along with the secondary character Marisa Kirisame, set out to solve various incidents that happen throughout the land, mostly caused by youkai. With this, they're both youkai exterminators.

The land is mainly inhabited by humans and youkai alike, who live in their own regions. Humans mostly settle in the Human Village, whilst youkai can be found mostly anywhere, such as the Youkai Mountain, the Forest of Magic and Makai. Some species include magicians, beasts, vampires, ghosts, tengu, mermaids, and kappa. There are other species that could be youkai depending on definition, such as fairies, spirits, phantoms, vengeful spirits, poltergeists, hermits, oni and gods.

Long before the Touhou Project '​s story begins, there lived many youkai as well as some humans in the area. After a few humans lost their way into Gensokyo, humans became afraid of approaching this area, although others settled here for the sake of youkai extermination. However, as time went on, humans developed civilisation and multiplied in number, and thus the youkai became distressed about how this would affect the balance between humans and youkai. Thus, 500 years before the events of the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Yukari Yakumo developed the "boundary of phantasm and substance", which was favoured by the youkai and protected the balance. This was called the "Youkai Expansion Project" and made Gensokyo a phantasmal world that automatically called out to the weakened youkai of the outside world. Other things that disappear from the outside world, like extinct animals, lost tools and architecture, also became abundant in Gensokyo. Since Gensokyo was a plot of land in Japan that was separated by a barrier, it is Japan that is immediately outside of this barrier.

As a result of the seal, Gensokyo became inaccessible from the outside world, and similarly, those in Gensokyo were unable to leave. Gensokyo's existence could not be confirmed from the outside world, nor could the outside world be confirmed within Gensokyo. As a result, the isolated community developed its own civilisation, different from that of the outside world. Although separated by a barrier, it is a bordering world to its outside, as opposed to being in a parallel universe. There are no seas in Gensokyo, since it is an inland mountain.

In present Gensokyo in all Touhou games, as opposed to the outside world where unscientific phenomena were dismissed as "superstition" by the time of the Meiji era, magical and spiritual qualities prevail. The only known gateway from the outside world into Gensokyo is the Hakurei Shrine. The spell card rules were also established to keep up the relationship between humans and youkai, which is necessary for the preservation of the balance of Gensokyo. The Great Hakurei Barrier, managed by Reimu, was constructed in the year 1885, which is described as a "barrier of common sense" and is thus a strong logical barrier that not even youkai can normally pass through. The youkai were at first against its construction, but then gradually understood its usefulness.

In-game events

In Gensokyo, incidents occur once in a while, where there's an event that affects all of Gensokyo with an unknown cause at the time it occurs.[2] Touhou games mainly focuses on incidents in its stories, but there are also works such as Mountain of Faith that are about events other than incidents.

Frequently, incidents are due to a youkai's whim or curiosity, and usually Reimu (and on some cases others imitators such as Marisa) would go to investigate it to then find and punish the perpetrator. When a major incident occurs, the spirits and fairies are affected by the circumstances, the incident, and the perpetrator, and experience an increase in power for the duration incident, so there are also cases where a mere fairy can defeat Reimu. It has additionally been stated that people of the village also go out to resolve incidents.[3]

The Touhou Project does use the Gregorian calendar, but since the moon is more important to youkai, there exists the "Youkai Lunisolar Calendar" in Gensokyo, and although it's not used except for some youkai, it features prominently in works that have dates, such as Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red. This calendar doesn't merely take into account the waxing and waning of the moon, but also its colour and the cycles of its edge, and has a 13th intercalary month called Uruu. The smallest unit of this calendar is the month, and the calendar era, called "~th season", goes through a sexagenary cycle. the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil occurred in the 118th season, Immaterial and Missing Power and Perfect Cherry Blossom in the 119th, and Phantasmagoria of Flower View in the 120th. The opening of the "Gensokyo Chronicles" to the public was on the 121st season. This calendar is set such that the end of World War II is on the 60th season.

Name and Concept

Touhou (東方) means "Eastern" and can refer to some or all of the areas, cultures or histories within East Asia. Historically, the term "the Orient" was widely used to refer to trade goods, artwork, literature, other items or topics related to countries in East Asia such as China, Japan, Korea or Vietnam. Officially, "Project Shrine Maiden" is the term for referring the series in English, but the English-speaking community regardlessly calls it the "Touhou Project" like the Japanese do. According to the Music Room Special in Mystic Square, the naming scheme of 東方OOO originally came from one of the first songs he composed for Highly Responsive to Prayers, called Touhou Kaikidan (東方怪奇談). With some exceptions, the title of games/books/CDs of the Touhou Project are all under the format as shown in the following table:

Format: Japanese main title double byte space double byte wave dash single byte space English subtitle single byte period/full stop
Example: 東方紅魔郷 ' ' '' ' ' the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil '.'


In the Japanese community – along with the Chinese and Korean communities – the works are usually referred by the main title without the Touhou (e.g. Koumakyou (紅魔郷) for 東方紅魔郷 ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). For short, they're referred by their third kanji/hanzi/hanja (e.g. ). However for some titles, there are exceptions:

  • Hisoutensoku → 天則 (Tensoku) or 則 (soku)
  • Double Spoiler → DS
  • Fairy Wars → Mostly 大戦争 (Daisensou); if abbreviation is needed, just is used
  • Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red → 書籍文花帖 (Bunkachou)
  • Perfect Memento in Strict Sense → (before SoPm) 求聞 (Gumon), (after SoPm) 史記 (Shiki)
  • The Grimoire of Marisa → グリモア (Gurimoa)
  • Symposium of Post-mysticism → 口授 (Kuju)
  • Curiosities of Lotus Asia → 香霖堂 (Kourindou)
  • Silent Sinner in Blue → 儚月抄 (Bougetsushou)
  • Cage in Lunatic Runagate → 小説抄 (Shou)
  • Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth → Most commonly うどんげっしょー (Udon Gesshou)
  • Music CDs are all referred by their full Japanese title, and Sangetsusei are called by "三月精" (Sangetsusei) + volumes.

In the Western community (English, French, Spanish, etc.), they're referred by their English subtitles (e.g. the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). For short, they're referred via unofficial acronyms of the subtitles (e.g. EoSD). The leading "the" is sometimes omitted in the former, but always in the latter. Works without an English subtitle may be referred by their main title, as with Touhou Hisoutensoku (Soku) and The Grimoire of Marisa (GoM), or by their translated subtitle, as with Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth (IotMaIotE).

"Series" terminology

While some people refer to the Touhou Project as "Touhou Series" (東方シリーズ Tōhō shirīzu), ZUN himself has a tendency to avoid using this term. He has given a reason to this - he said that he has been avoiding the term because it's been established to have an image of "commercialism". He also said that Touhou is hard to be considered as a "series" - since system, story and characters are all unrelated per each work and only the worldview is same. But it should be noted that right after he said that he finished his line with: "...Well, it is a series though." making the audience burst out laughing.[4] He has also used the term a few times in the past himself,[5] in addition to it appearing in print works.[6][7]

Japanese culture

The Touhou Project has a lot of aspects of Japanese mythology, traditions and religion present, including texts such as the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. Many characters and stories are to at least some extent based on folklore, often more so than modern culture, making the series more traditional than modern itself.

Modern Science

Modern science and technology hold very little aspects in the Touhou Project, but has become quite common in recent material.


PC-98 Games

東方靈異伝 ~ Highly Responsive to Prayers
東方封魔録 ~ Story of Eastern Wonderland
東方夢時空 ~ Phantasmagoria of Dim.Dream
東方幻想郷 ~ Lotus Land Story
東方怪綺談 ~ Mystic Square

Windows Games

東方紅魔郷 ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil
東方妖々夢 ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom
東方萃夢想 ~ Immaterial and Missing Power
東方永夜抄 ~ Imperishable Night
東方花映塚 ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View
東方文花帖 ~ Shoot the Bullet
東方風神録 ~ Mountain of Faith
東方緋想天 ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody
東方地霊殿 ~ Subterranean Animism
東方星蓮船 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object
東方非想天則 ~ 超弩級ギニョルの謎を追え
ダブルスポイラー ~ 東方文花帖
妖精大戦争 ~ 東方三月精
東方神霊廟 ~ Ten Desires
東方心綺楼 ~ Hopeless Masquerade
東方輝針城 ~ Double Dealing Character
弾幕アマノジャク ~ Impossible Spell Card
弾幕アマノジャク ゴールドラッシュ
東方深秘録 ~ Urban Legend in Limbo
東方紺珠伝 ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom
東方憑依華 ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers
東方天空璋 ~ Hidden Star in Four Seasons
秘封ナイトメアダイアリー 〜 Violet Detector
東方鬼形獣 ~ Wily Beast and Weakest Creature
東方剛欲異聞 ~ 水没した沈愁地獄
東方虹龍洞 ~ Unconnected Marketeers
バレットフィリア達の闇市場 ~ 100th Black Market
東方獣王園 〜 Unfinished Dream of All Living Ghost

ZUN's Music Collection

蓬莱人形 ~ Dolls in Pseudo Paradise
蓮台野夜行 ~ Ghostly Field Club
夢違科学世紀 ~ Changeability of Strange Dream
卯酉東海道 ~ Retrospective 53 minutes
大空魔術 ~ Magical Astronomy
未知の花 魅知の旅
鳥船遺跡 ~ Trojan Green Asteroid
伊弉諾物質 ~ Neo-traditionalism of Japan
燕石博物誌 ~ Dr. Latency's Freak Report
旧約酒場 ~ Dateless Bar "Old Adam"
バレットフィリア達の闇市場 ~ 七夕坂夢幻能 〜 Taboo Japan Disentanglement.

Akyu's Untouched Score

幺樂団の歴史1 ~ Akyu's Untouched Score vol.1
幺樂団の歴史2 ~ Akyu's Untouched Score vol.2
幺樂団の歴史3 ~ Akyu's Untouched Score vol.3
幺樂団の歴史4 ~ Akyu's Untouched Score vol.4
幺樂団の歴史5 ~ Akyu's Untouched Score vol.5

Danmaku Action Game soundtracks

核熱造神ヒソウテンソク 東方非想天則 ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK
深秘的楽曲集 宇佐見菫子と秘密の部室
深秘的楽曲集・補 東方深秘録初回特典 CD
完全憑依ディスコグラフィ 東方憑依華 ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK
強欲な獣のムジカ 東方剛欲異聞 ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK

Written Works

東方香霖堂 ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia
東方文花帖 ~ Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red
東方紫香花 ~ Seasonal Dream Vision
東方求聞史紀 ~ Perfect Memento in Strict Sense
The Grimoire of Marisa
東方求聞口授 ~ Symposium of Post-mysticism
東方外來韋編 ~ Strange Creators of Outer World
東方文果真報 ~ Alternative Facts in Eastern Utopia
The Grimoire of Usami

Touhou Sangetsusei Series

東方三月精 ~ Eastern and Little Nature Deity
東方三月精 ~ Strange and Bright Nature Deity
東方三月精 ~ Oriental Sacred Place
東方三月精 ~ Visionary Fairies in Shrine

Touhou Bougetsushou Series
東方儚月抄 ~ Silent Sinner in Blue
東方儚月抄 ~ Cage in Lunatic Runagate
東方儚月抄 ~ 月のイナバと地上の因幡

東方茨歌仙 ~ Wild and Horned Hermit
東方鈴奈庵 ~ Forbidden Scrollery
東方酔蝶華 ~ ロータスイーター達の酔醒
東方智霊奇伝 ~ 反則探偵さとり


Absence or presence of fundamental controls
Player Character selection × × × × × × × ×
Weapon choice × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Slow movement × × ×
Shot change during slow movement × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Bomb: Bomb gauge consumption × × × × × × ×
Bomb: Power gauge consumption × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Extend: Points × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Extend: Special Item Collection × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Extend: Other × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Difficulty: Extra × × × × × ×
Difficulty: Phantasm × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Difficulty: Spoiler × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Continue: recover on-spot × × × × × × × × × ×
Continue: from beginning of stage × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Different game modes × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×
Achievement system × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×

Additional Information

  • The Touhou Project was nominated for the 11th annual Media Arts Awards awards held by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, under the Entertainment category.[8] However, Wii Sports by Nintendo was given the Grand Prize award and the Touhou Project failed to win any awards.[9]
  • All of ZUN's print works of the Touhou world include all the characters re/appearing in the Windows series at least once showing that the Windows games have a direct connection to the literature.
  • The game Uwabami Breakers and the Seihou Project series have some relation to the Touhou Project, although they aren't part of it.



  1. "Most prolific fan-made shooter series". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  2. Perfect Memento in Strict Sense: Reimu Hakurei
  3. Perfect Memento in Strict Sense: Human Village
  4. ZUN's Gensou Denshou Lecture
  5. Story of Eastern Wonderland - Complete Darkness (東方幻想的音楽 arrangement)
  6. Curiosities of Lotus Asia - Chapter 16
  7. Shanghai Alice Correspondence Three Fairies Version - volume EX
  8. "2007 11th Japan Media Arts Festival Open form" (in 日本語). Japan Media Arts Plaza, Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 2007-11-19.
  9. "2007 Eleventh Japan Media Arts Festival Award-winning Works". Japan Media Arts Plaza, Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 2008-02-29.