In Japanese legend, all types of tsukumogami gain life and sentience on the 100th anniversary of their creation, and can range from harmless and friendly beings to horrifying vengeful spirits, depending on how they were treated and used. It is also said that modern electric items cannot become tsukumogami.
Tsukumogami in Touhou
In the Touhou Project, tsukumogami are formed from the god inside the object becoming angry at its disposal and becoming animate to do harm to those who threw it away disrespectfully. Their appearance is highly variable, but is based on the item they came from; for instance, Kogasa Tatara is an umbrella tsukumogami known as a karakasa obake. In general, they are known to be malevolent towards humans because they desire vengeance on those that threw them away.
As shown in Forbidden Scrollery Chapter 5, when Tsukumogami first form, they appear as the object they were formed from with a set of legs attached. In this early stage, they are referred to as baby tsukumogamis.
Types of Tsukumogami
This lists all the types of Tsukumogami that appear in Touhou.
The karakasa obake (唐傘おばけ) are umbrellas that are typically portrayed with one eye, a long tongue protruding from an open mouth, and a single foot, generally wearing a geta. However, it is unknown if this is their natural appearance in Touhou, as Kogasa Tatara tells Sanae Kochiya in Undefined Fantastic Object that she "did my best to look youkai-like." and Hieda no Akyuu states in Symposium of Post-mysticism that "The design of the umbrella is thought to have been modified to be based on" Ippon Datara.
In ZUN's interview on Undefined Fantastic Object, he stated that "karakasa obake" does not have much of a meaning behind it; it is simply a tsukumogami of an umbrella. Thus Kogasa was not given much of a story behind her and her past was much like her folklore counterpart.
The Ungaikyo (雲外鏡, lit. "mirror far above the clouds") are living mirrors that occasionally have occult powers. They are demons that come out of antique mirrors.
The biwabokuboku (琵琶牧々) are biwa, the Japanese string musical instruments similar to lute, that became youkai.
The kotofurunushi (琴古主) are koto, the Japanese traditional stringed musical instruments, that became youkai.
- Main article: Menreiki
The menreiki (面霊気, roughly "mask essence") is a youkai born from a collection of masks; in Touhou it is considered to be a type of tsukumogami.
The kutsutsura (沓頬, "shoe-face") is a kind of tsukumogami born either from a shoe or from a crown. The first type steals melons, the second steals plums. In Touhou, both types are mentioned, but only the shoe type has been seen.
Characters under this Bestiary
- Kogasa Tatara (Karakasa)
- Medicine Melancholy? (Unknown)
- Hata no Kokoro (Menreiki)
- Benben Tsukumo (Biwabokuboku)
- Yatsuhashi Tsukumo (Kotofurunushi)
- Raiko Horikawa
- Unnamed Kutsutsura
- Dark Mirror? (Ungaikyo?)
- Spirit Mirror? (Ungaikyo?)