“My name isn’t really mentioned publicly, but I’m the one that does the work at the shrine.”
Though the Moriya Shrine’s followers owe their allegiance to Kanako, the shrine itself is actually the abode of a completely different entity: the earth and curse goddess Suwako Moriya.
Where Kanako is direct and forceful, Suwako keeps to the shadows and prefers to act covertly. Her true personality is difficult to read as she rarely lets on the full extent of what she knows, instead preferring to play the fool when others get too close to uncovering the truth.
Though she’s mostly seen in a childlike form, Suwako’s physical shape isn’t fixed and she can take the form of a frog. That said, she’s not actually a frog goddess and has no sway over the amphibians of Gensokyo. Apparently she just really likes frogs, which would explain her hat. Speaking of that particular piece of headwear, Suwako seems to have sparked something of a fashion trend among the mountain-dwelling fairies as in Mountain of Faith, several are seen with similar hats.
The mountain itself is me.
The mountain is the object of worship of me.
After all, this is the only such magnificent mountain in all of Gensokyo.
I can’t help it if those who live here don’t have faith in me.
Residing in the lake at the peak of Youkai Mountain, Kanako Yasaka is the primary goddess of the Moriya Shrine and Sanae’s boss.
Originally, Kanako came from the Outside World, but found that her days there were numbered. In large part, this threat came from the increasing secularization of the world and the consequent decrease in believers. Indeed, Kanako speaks with disgust when reflecting on how shrines and other sacred locations were being turned into “power spots” and other such hippie nonsense.
However, humans came to know mortality and started disbelieving in eternity.
Even in agriculture, they continued to acquire skills that defied the rain and winds.
They learned that mountains were created from volcanoes and changes in the earth’s crust.
They became able to cross mountains easily and without danger.
Yes, humans had begun to believe in science and information.
In tandem with that, the faith they had in gods like Kanako continued to wane.
Rather than fade into obscurity, Kanako instead sought to regain her power by relocating the Moriya Shrine to Gensokyo. As a fantasy land resembling feudal Japan, the residents of Gensokyo are far more spiritual and believe in the existence of gods as a matter of fact. Kanako’s plan, however, doesn’t end at merely transplanting herself into this environment. Kanako is a major player in Gensokyo’s power politics and one of her first acts was to negotiate an alliance with the Tengu and Kappa of the mountain. In return for providing her with a steady supply of faith, Kanako in turn grants boons to her worshippers. In one instance, she offered to introduce the Kappa to the power of nuclear fusion.
“She’s the new miko on the mountain. She’s a human but she seems like a god. I wonder what’s the difference between a god and human. The taste of their meat?” – Hatate
Sanae Kochiya is the shrine maiden of the Moriya Shrine. In contrast to the Hakurei Shrine, the Moriya Shrine is located at the peak of Youkai Mountain and consequently draws support primarily from the Tengu and Kappa living there instead of the humans in the village. Unlike the seemingly godless Hakurei Shrine, the Moriya Shrine is home to two goddesses. Well, there are technically three, but we’ll get back to that. The primary goddess, Kanako, is Sanae’s mentor and superior in addition to being the public face of the shrine. Under her command, Sanae is primarily responsible for increasing the faith that the shrine gathers through various means. Her specific tasks range from performing minor miracles for peasants (on the level of street magic) to going on adventures to defeat powerful youkai.
Nitori Kawashiro is a kappa living near the base of Youkai Mountain. She’s an engineer by trade and enjoys tinkering with technology from the outside world in order to reverse-engineer it.
In Japanese folklore, the Kappa are amphibious creatures of childlike stature with webbed appendages, turtle shells, beaklike mouths, and a hairless cavity on the top of their head often filled with water. This dishlike structure must be full of water at all times for them to move about on land, resulting in a rather hilarious method of defeating them by bowing, thus immobilizing them by forcing them to reciprocate and spill the contents of the dish. How polite of them.
Their arms are said to be connected directly to each other, allowing them to reach out and grab far targets by shifting the length of their arm. The Kappa are known as tricksters and engage in all manner of shenanigans ranging from benign pranks to more malicious acts like dragging people into the water and drowning them. For some other trivia, Kappa supposedly love cucumbers, sumo wrestling, and anally invading humans to death. Yes, you read that correctly, and we’ll get back to that.
“Yep, third-rate. The contents are just awful. What kinda idiot would write stuff like this?” – Marisa
Thus far in the Introduction to Touhou, we’ve relied on three primary sources. The first of these is Marisa Kirisame’s Grimoire of Marisa, an ultraspecialized tome on the spell cards of various characters that acts mostly as a shopping list for the thieving magician. The second is Hieda no Akyuu’s Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, a dry and encyclopedic reference text that provides a factual backbone for much of our analysis. The third and last is Aya Shameimaru’s Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red, a collection of news articles and follow-up interviews that covers unusual incidents typically outside the events of the main games.
Though for a number of reasons, Bohemian Archive has questionable factual accuracy, its interview format and writing style went a long way towards adding much-needed color to the Touhou universe. That said, it stops covering events and characters just before Phantasmagoria of Flower View and thus won’t be of any further use until we backtrack in the Hard Mode section of the Introduction to Touhou. So as a sendoff to this handy document, we’ll be looking at its similarly storied and colorful writer.