Archive for the ‘ Text Passages ’ Category

大空魔術 ~ Magical Astronomy

^Shinta is the Renko and Merry artist. You can search his tag in most places with “shinta (artist)” but here is his pixiv for good measure: [pixiv-link]

This is the first real large translation project that I’ve overtaken and finished in less than 24 hours. I’m a bit proud of myself ^_^. Also a bit tired, but oh well; ┐( ̄ー ̄)┌ it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately this is the last installment of Renko and Merry’s adventures. Feel absolutely free to develop theories connecting Merry Hearn and Yukari Yakumo while trying to decide the fate of Usami Renko… I know I will.

Anyway about the music, this is one of my favorite disks; I do love them all absolutely, but Magical Astronomy, Retrospective 53 Minutes and Hourai Dolls come out on top. After all, Magical Astronomy contains 天空のグリニッジ (Greenwich of the Sky) possibly my favorite Touhou original track, 車椅子の未来宇宙 (The Future Cosmos in a Wheelchair), and of course 大空魔術, Magical Astronomy. If you like the music on this disk, I also recommend giving “Metallical Astronomy” by SOUND HOLIC a listen. If you like 天空のグリニッジ even a fraction of the amount I love it, I seriously recommend giving this [local-link] track by Buta-Otome a listen.

If you want to read more about Renko and Merry, look to my [translations-side-projects page] and you’ll find all of the works there translated ^_^.

As always, but especially with posts like these, I appreciate comments; Thank you for reading – if you want to skip the notes, just scroll down to the next picture and start from there. As always this story is best read while listening to the music it accompanies.

“Magic of the Skyward Heavens” might be making it a little too poetic, but I want to embrace the astronomy meaning with the image of a starry sky. You call them “celestial bodies” after all right? I didn’t use the commonly accepted translations of the titles of the tracks but translated them myself; especially because titles are short and thus more applicable to ambiguity, I’m not going to say anything like those translations are wrong or anything, I just wanted to pick/piece together the titles myself. I tried to fit them best based on the contents of the read-along below.

I tried to keep who’s saying what obvious enough so I didn’t have to throw in each of their names all the time, but if you need it, I can indent or color the dialogue.

I interchanged space, outer space, universe, and cosmos depending on the mood, but they’re all from the same word 宇宙.

I used “moon tour” throughout for brevity’s sake, but it really is moon’s surface tour, not to be confused with just circling the moon in a spaceship and riding back home.

I would also like to note that the individual notes for each section aren’t really that necessary to read, they’re mostly just notes on some terms, science, and a few of my comments. If I were skilled enough to make some sort of collapsing annotations system I would, but I’m not that skilled.

UTC stands for “Universal Coordinated Time” don’t ask me why, but some official abbreviations like this tend to be out of order. I researched this out of curiosity, and UTC is in fact less correct than GMT=Greenwich Mean Time (otherwise known as UT1=Universal Time 1 for the specific calculation formula etc.). UTC is based on the TAI=International Atomic Time, that has “leap seconds” added to it whenever UTC and GMT are more than .9 seconds apart. Solar time via the Royal Observatory at Greenwich is recalculated because the rotation of the Earth is gradually slowing down, tidal gravity waves from other planets and seasonal and weather changes and … (゚Д゚ノ)ノ time should not be this complicated. So that’s what Renko means by outside her ability.

A dango is a certain Japanese sweet, rice cakes skewered and roasted then dipped in sauce. They’ve very tasty and very autumn.

Stephen Hawking is probably greatest theoretical physicist and cosmologist of all time; due to a motor disease that he contracted early on, at this point in time he can’t really move much more than his cheek, which means he sits in a wheelchair and uses a voice synthesizer to talk. I actually have attended one of his lectures, and met (meaning really, say “hello” to and not that much more; I might have asked a question) him when I was younger. Hence, the “a wheelchair futuristic cosmos”.

Max Planck was a German physicist around Einstein’s time who founded quantum theory/quantum physics.

Hermeneutics is the study of explanations.

[Planck Length]

I want to try coffee that’s been exploded and frozen in an instant! (*´▽`*)ノ旦
I’d really like to see that experiment happen, I should send this to NASA and… oh wait (;ω;`)

The siphon system is similar (or equivalent) to the perlocated method (also now obsolete), which does technically use gravity to get the coffee back to the original chamber, but uses water vapor pressure to send the liquid through the grounds multiple times. I suppose if you made it more circular it would work just fine, however, personally, for coffee in the absence of gravity, I recommend the French press.

The four fundamental physical forces/interactions are: gravity, weak, strong, and electromagnetic.

I used necrofantasia and necrophantasia seperately. I figure there’s a nuance. Necrofantasia is the original title, but the subtitle is necrophantasia, what Renko describes.

“pond, lake” That’s just what was written. I’ll take it as poetic license. If it’s something with a fountain I’m assuming it’s rather small, but I could be mistaken.

It would help my finances if the dollar to yen rate were still 120 yen to a dollar.. it’s around 85 at the time of this writing (for your reference).

大空魔術 ~ Magical Astronomy.
 Oozora Majutsu ~ Magical Astronomy
 Magic of the Skyward Heavens ~ Magical Astronomy

 1.月面ツアーへようこそ (Welcome to Our Tour of the Moon’s Surface)
    Welcome to Lunatic City.


“One of mankind’s dreams, a journey to the moon, is now finally within anyone’s reach!”
“Next month, travel companies all across Japan will start tours!”


In front of a crowded private railway station a newspaper extra was flying this way and that.


It was rare for there to be an extra not sports related, and such bright news as this; normally people would just throw extras like this away, but just this time everyone was putting them away in their bags. While certainly some were interested in the contents of the article, I’m sure there were just a few taken in by the picture on the front.


Photographs of the universe have a healing effect on people’s hearts. If I had to say why, it’s because just seeing it forces people to realize the smallness of what it means to be human. Facing that directly is difficult, but when you feel how incredibly small you are compared to the rest of the great, expansive universe, it calms you. Because the universe is just so wide, each person’s individual efforts aren’t that important. Whether it be a superior, a politician, or a dictator (though now there are none left), all of them are human. So it’s fine for you to just put out as much effort as you can. You an feel all of that intuitively just from a picture of space.


Usami Renko and Maribel Hearn were having an excited conversation on a cafe terrace within the university grounds.

 2.天空のグリニッジ (Greenwich of the Sky)
    Royal Greenwich Observatory


“It says, ‘Furthermore, we’ve just sent another manned mission to Mars.'”


“Really? Well, I don’t really care about the missions to Mars. Merry, first I want to talk about that “Trip to the Moon” from the newspaper extra article.”


“Well, with you being able to tell the time and place by just looking at the moon and stars, I’d really like to know what you’d see on the surface of the moon.”


“Well I’d probably just know, ‘This is the surface of the moon.'”


“What about the time?”


“The only time I can see is Japan Standard Time (JST), Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) is outside my ability range. In the first place I think it’s strange to use the same time on the earth and on the moon.”


“Wait a minute, “outside your ability range”…. it’s it just a matter of subtraction?”


In outer space we now use UTC, but this “universal coordinated time” is basically the same as Greenwich Mean Time. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was established in the 17th century; but when I think that the time originally used for viewing the universe is now being used throughout it, it feels just a little ridiculous.

 3.東の国の眠れない夜 (A Sleepless Night in the Eastern Country)
    Vampirish Nightlife

 「で、いつ行くの? 月面旅行」

“So, when should we go on this moon tour?”


“Merry, you really are hasty aren’t you? Well it’ll probably be crowded so I’d like to get reservations before long.”


“Since during summer vacation it’ll probably be ridiculously crowded, and it’ll be hot and all, so… shouldn’t we wait a little longer and go in the fall?”


“I’m pretty sure it’s not “hot” on the moon or in space, but I agree – going in the fall would be better, very Japanese. Anyway, why don’t we go during this year’s harvest moon?”


“Yeah, and take along dangos! Let’s do it, let’s do it!”


Even with all the information we have now, space has and will always be something of a romance for us. If it were possible to fulfill a part of that romance, to land upon our utmost captivating moon, I think anyone would want to take the opportunity and go at least once.


That said, those two still didn’t know how much the tour would cost.

 4.車椅子の未来宇宙 (The Future Cosmos in a Wheelchair)
    History of Time


“But really, we haven’t had a manned mission to Mars go well yet have we? I wonder if a day will ever come when we can confirm with our own eyes the cosmos inside Hawking’s head.”


“It really is a problem that no other physicist has been able to surpass Hawking.”


“Well, you should be able to do it if you try you know? You have a pretty rare ability after all.”


“My major is different you know? But well, I guess at least intelligence-wise you could say I’m on level with Planck. And anyway, that black hole evaporation thing that Hawking talked about, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to actually observe it. To tell you the truth, I don’t even think mankind will ever make it to Mars.”


“Well that’s pretty pessimistic. But if you’re the one saying it, it must be true.”


“The amount of energy required to make observations is just way too costly. Theory aside, realistically speaking, observational physics is coming to an end. And, by the way, this moon tour is too expensive isn’t it?”


Physics from a realistic standpoint is facing its end. Physics is already giving way to hermeneutics and philosophy.

 5.Demystify Feast
    神秘性のベールの向こう側 (Beyond the Occult Bell)


“Yeah, even though this cafe’s within the university grounds it’s relatively stylish and the food’s delicious. So, as you were saying, Renko, why is physics coming to an end?”


“Well, in a word it’s because the cost of observation is too great.”


“The same reason we can’t go on a tour of the moon, huh.”

  なっていくでしょ? すると究極まで行き着くと、宇宙最大のエネル

“When splitting small particles apart, the smaller the particle is, the more energy is required to split it. From a molecule to an atom, from an atom to a nucleus, from a nucleus to a quark… the smaller you get, the more you’ll need an endless supply of energy – right? – Eventually you’ll come to a point where you have a particle that even if you were to use the largest amount of energy that could possibly exist in the universe, you couldn’t split it. Even so, you couldn’t say that that particle is the smallest component in the world. Physics has already reached that world of the smallest minimums long ago and set its eyes on the next. But since it’s impossible to observe anything past this point, you’re just reaching into the realm of philosophy.”


“Ah, that new cake looks delicious! I guess the smallest components of this cake would be synthesized egg and synthesized strawberry.”

 エネルギーの限界量は10^19 GeVと言われている。このエネルギー量を
超えると時空に存在し得なくなるからである。ちなみにこの10^19 GeVは

It is said that the upper limit of energy is 10^19 GeV (10 quintillion giga-electron volts), because when you surpass this amount the energy is unable to exist dimensionally. This energy is called Planck energy, and is about 10^21 (1 septillion) times more than the energy generated from atomic energy.

 6.衛星カフェテラス (Satellite Cafe Terrace)
    Satellite Cafe


“You know, I wasn’t really asking for a physics discussion, and you just kept on talking on and on…”


“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s my major after all. But really, this cake is delicious.”


“I so wanted to go on a moon tour too… I guess I should have known, it’s way too expensive.”


“Now that you mention it, apparently they’ve made a satellite cafe for customers journeying into space, apparently the coffee there in zero gravity is really something else.”


“Yeah, but it’s probably an indoor cafe right? I prefer open cafe terraces.”


When you expose coffee to a vacuum – just for an moment, due to the low pressure, it instantaneously boils, but as it does, it loses the heat to boil, so in the instant it boils, it freezes. This using this frozen-while-boiling coffee, “Satellite Ice Coffee” is one of the specials on their menu.

 7.G Free
    Zero Gravity


“Now that I think of it, doesn’t filtering coffee rely on gravity? Without gravity the whole drip method doesn’t work right? So how do they make coffee in zero gravity?”


“They’ve brought back the obsolete siphon system, since it uses water vapor pressure to draw the water back and forth through the filtering system instead of gravity.”


“Siphon huh..
Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen them except in the interior of some cafes, but I suppose that’s a filtering device that would work.. Though I heard that it lacks in flavor compared to drip coffee…”


“I heard they’re remaking them in zero gravity versions – after all convection won’t work without gravity – and apparently the coffee they make is rich in flavor.”


“Hmm.. Even if I don’t drink its coffee, it feels like I’m just opening my eyes to the idea of space. It’s making me excited.”


Humans released from gravity are building a new culture. But at the same time, it makes you realize how many various tools we use rely on gravity. From when its existence was proven at an early stage, gravity has troubled physicists to the very end; it only was just recently that gravity was finally grouped together with the other fundamental interactions.

 8.大空魔術 (Magic of the Skyward Heavens)
    Magical Astronomy


“Ah, space really is fascinating…”


“What are you doing sighing like that? Are you saying there’s nothing left that’s fascinating for you here on the ground?”


“It’s 16:31, I just saw the evening star… Well there really aren’t that many wonders left for me on the surface.”


“Well I guess when it’s someone like you, who can see all the workings of the world, it’s only natural for the nihilism in your heart to start showing on your face.”


“Like I was saying though, I’m really envious of your eyes. You’re always able to see strange worlds.. I really did want to see through the gaps in the barriers on the surface of the moon too..”


“If the tour were cheaper…”


Boundaries aren’t specific to the earth, so of course they would exist on the surface of the moon as well. The boundary on the moon’s surface separates a shining capital from the rest of the barren, lifeless satellite. As long as this barrier exists, even if you went to the moon, you wouldn’t be able to lay your hands on any of the rice cakes or medicine the moon rabbits were preparing. A moon rock is the most you could ever get.


“There must be a forgotten world hidden on the moon. One with a advanced culture, with a capital where the high classes live. Rabbits prepare the elixir of immortality, staring towards the three legged bird that nests in the sun, lamenting their bustling human visitors on their moon tour. But there’s no one other than you who can see that world.”


“You’re right. I’d like to go before we start seriously colonizing.”


“Well if it’s decided then we’ve got to make preparations, haven’t we?”


“If we want to see the capital of the moon, first we should probably study more on the subject… about the ancient moon forgotten from history long ago, about the shining capital of the moon from the stories, about the moon, the symbol of insanity… after all knowledge will help define the gaps in the boundary.”


“Well I was thinking more that first we should get part time jobs.. to save up money for the tour and all…”

 9.ネクロファンタジア (Necrofantasia)


The sun had set, and although it was already about time to eat dinner, the two finished their cake and finally left the cafeteria. At this university you could pay with your student ID card for all the shops within the grounds. Then you would pay your expenses every month along with your tuition. That lowered the cost of managing money and uncrowded the registers, so the students could shop more easily (because their parents were paying), and sales rose. Though thanks to that, there weren’t a few who found they accumulated more costs than they had bargained for.


“Apparently there’s an elixir on the moon that makes you ageless and immortal you know?”


“Ageless and immortal huh. Doesn’t seem like someone like you would need it Renko, right? Facing the end of physics and headed towards nothingness and all.”


“Who’s this nihilist you keep going on about? I’m full of life, excited about going into space, relaxing with the night..”


“So, if you were able to get the that elixir, would you use it?”


As world rapidly developed, every country gained some level of prosperity, but mankind just continued on to the next stage. The human population that had increased steadily since before the common era, now gently began to decrease. Capitalism, like Noah’s ark, economically expanded stratified society, and due to that all countries across the board showed a decrease in birthrates, but this was just the world moving on to capitalism’s last step, “population control”. Japan with its rapidly declining birthrates and therefore population, was able to successfully avoid the demerits of its population decrease, and with the efforts of the time’s chosen people, its national psychological state was able to return to prosperity.


“The elixir of life? Of course I’d use it. Do you know why in stories and such ageless immortality is portrayed as an emotionally painful thing? It was just a warning against everyone’s greed and rebellion against authority. But on the other hand, its mere existence has become a curse. Ageless immortality doesn’t mean that you don’t die, but rather that the boundary between life and death ceases to exist; it’s a state of neither living nor dying. Really, it’s just a realization of “necrophantasia”, a world that exists in the apparent world and in the world of the dead.”

10.向こう側の月 (The Dark Side of the Moon)
    Megalopolis of Moon


The two sat down on the edge of a pond with a water fountain set up by the university.


The moon had already shown its face, and in the lake another crater-less flat moon was floating.


The magician Merry saw it there.


The rabbit preparing medicine,


and a celestial maiden, clothed in shining robes


dancing elegantly in the sky.


In the moon reflected on the water, she saw behind the barrier.
Looking at that moon an idea popped into Merry’s head.


“Hey, Renko. If the moon tour is too expensive, then why don’t we think up another way to get to the moon?”



Just in case we haven’t met before, nice to meet you, this is ZUN.


Well really, compared to the greatness of the universe, I’m pretty small. No matter what failure I make it’s all trivial. Even in for a few years I can’t advance, continue education, get a job, compared to the greatness of the universe it’s all good and stuff. Even with the deadline coming up really soon and my stomach aching, all just keep working, humming along and…


No. Humans are desperate and frantic, deadline means “dead” “line”. My stomach…

 で、宇宙旅行、行きたいですよねぇ。行きたくない? いやいやそんな

So, I’d love to go on a journey into space. Wouldn’t you? Oh come on, you don’t need to lie like that. If you don’t want to head out into space, where else are you saying you want to go?


Actually it won’t be long till we have a moon tour for civilians (except apparently you don’t get to land). At any rate the estimated cost is a hundred million dollars (about 12 billion yen). Now I’m not Renko but,


“This moon tour is really too expensive isn’t it?”


Anyway with that price, I don’t see how it’s supposed to be “for the public”. Is this a Noah’s ark shown to us by capitalism? Are they planning on letting those left behind here on the ground drown in a flood of information? I wonder if an age will ever come when the vacation-less frantically hardworking illusionary people of the surface may easily travel to the moon.

             上海アリス幻楽団 ZUN(P◯3も方舟?)
             Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra
                      ZUN (is the P◯3 an ark too?)


卯酉東海道 ~ Retrospective 53 minutes

The long-awaited! Ok, I really shouldn’t be kidding myself, I’m probably the only one that was looking forward to this wonderful work’s completion. *cries in a corner*

If the English subtitle is almost exactly the same as a translation of the above, I’ll leave it alone, but otherwise I’ll put a translation of the Japanese in parentheses on the right.

(Track 2):
For brevity, and because they really are names, after introducing the “Eastern Seaboard” and “East-To-West Eastern Seaboard” rails, they are written as Toukaidou and Bouyuu-Toukaidou respectively.
The Jinki Era is (724.2.4-729.8.5 CE) however, because this takes place in a slightly alternate reality/alternate future the exact dates aren’t important.

(Track 3):
As for “places like Shinjuku and Shibuya” which have nothing at all to do with a historical feel (trust me, I’ve been there) I think it’s safe to say that in Renko’s Japan the capital was moved from Tokyo to Kyoto rather than Kyoto to Tokyo and that you can view the cities as switched. Kyoto is the place with all the historical buildings. (Or from a futuristic perspective it moved from Kyoto to Tokyo and then back to Kyoto).

Higan-mairi, generally speaking, is visiting a temple during the vernal/autumnal equinox – related to Buddhism.

(Track 4):
Higan is again a period during the vernal/autumnal equinox where events are held related to Buddhism, usually you visit a temple.

(Track 5):
Aokigahara is the forest around Mount Fuji, a popular suicide spot, and strangely, eerily quiet – it gave me chills just looking down at it from above… So I can understand Merry here.

(Track 6):
Hachiman/Yawata-no-kami is a Shinto/Buddhist diety, with the second largest number of shrines dedicated to him (after Inari), the largest of which is the Usa Shrine, in Usa located in Kyushu (the song title uses Usa as a name, so it probably refers to Hachiman). Usa/Hachiman is somehow related to Tewi (this could be due to the fact that Usa starts “usagi” which is “rabbit” and the second symbol in “Hachiman” (幡) is part of Tewi’s surname (Inaba 因幡)), who lies a lot. Also, Usami Renko’s surname (宇佐見) uses the same characters used to write Usa (宇佐). “Most Famous Hero” would refer to Hachiman because he is the primary deity of the Minamoto Warrior Clan (who ruled from Kamakura), and because he was said to give guidance to warriors, etc.

Somehow the saying for “shelved” is almost identical in Japanese and English, so the pun stays mostly intact – however there’s another pun linking to it. Rather than “shelf” Japan uses “shed” and the name Kamakura means “shed of sickles/scythes”.

It probably doesn’t need much more of an explanation, but Hokusai and Hiroshige were both print makers famous for views of Mount Fuji among other things.

(Track 8):
“townies, militants, and firefighters” == merchants, samurai, lower-class-samurai. Though firefighter may seem strange and irrelevant, it was a common post for lower-class samurai, including Hiroshige for instance.

(Track 9):
“So the city still has those sorts of unrefined plebeian amusements?” Yeah, I wanted to punch Merry too – but I’ve always been on Renko’s side from page 1, so this only reinforces my opinion.

You don’t believe me, but they exist: [food-theme-parks-wiki-page (jpn)]

“long ago”←→”nowadays” disparity: I attribute it to a subtle narrator shift, on one hand addressing the time of Merry and Renko (in the alternate future) and another addressing the audience. Part of me felt like correcting it, but I decided to leave it.

If you have any questions about specific terms used just ask and I’ll add an explanation to the notes.

卯酉東海道 ~ Retrospective 53 minutes
 Bouyuu-Toukaidou ~ Retrospective 53 minutes
 East to West Eastern Seaboard Route ~ Retrospective 53 minutes

 1.ヒロシゲ36号 (Hiroshige, Rail-car #36)
    Neo Super-Express


The Hiroshige, carrying both girls, raced towards the east. It went forward without a sound, without swaying or shifting, directly east.


Looking down the aisle, you could see that a lot of the four seat boxes were empty, so no one would have minded if two took one to themselves. The morning train in the opposite direction was packed, but this one headed for Tokyo was nearly empty. They couldn’t have asked for better.


Sunlight was starting to creep in through the window. One of the selling points of this new model bullet train was that every car had a “half-panoramic view”. With the exception of the roof and floor, everything was window. In other words, most of the wall of the train was window, and it seemed like a giant glass test tube was racing along the track.

From the perspective of one blonde haired girl sitting in a seat facing the rear end of the train, there was a beautiful blue coastline extending as far as the eye could see on her left, with beautiful level plains and a pine forest spreading out on her right – not a building in sight.


It had been about twenty five minutes since their departure, and they could already see Mount Fuji breaking through the clouds far off in the distance. It had such a sublime, majestic shape that one couldn’t help but think it was inhabited by mystics.


Due to the efforts of the Mount Fuji Restoration Project, Mount Fuji had finally in recent years been designated as a “global heritage location”, but this view from the Hiroshige made it look many times more magnificent.
Perhaps one reason was that when you looked out from the Hiroshige’s panoramic view, you couldn’t find a single skyscraper, structured bridge, or even power line in the distance.


Even setting aside Mount Fuji, the coastline on the left was so beautiful, if it were specified for global heritage a dozen times it wouldn’t be enough. I didn’t imagine the eastern seaboard could be this beautiful.


However, to the blonde haired girl Merry, even this extremely beautiful Japanese landscape in view from the East-West “Hiroshige” Bullet train, was nothing more than a tiring picture show.

    Blue Sea for 53 minutes


“The Hiroshige has wide seats and it’s really fast and convenient, but… it’s boring that all you can see is this ‘fake’ kaleido-screen view.”


“Still, because of the tunnel projection it’s a lot brighter than the older subway systems you know. This way it’s like we’re riding above ground.”


“Even if the real Mount Fuji up above the ground isn’t as beautiful as this one, I’d still rather see the real thing. It would have been better if we had just taken the old eastern-seaboard bullet train.”


“Really! The old Toukaidou? What are you acting all extravagant for? The only people that use that nowadays are North-easterners, Indians, and celebrities you know? Well, I guess you do laze about like those North-easterners do.”


“No, I’m a celebrity.”


–The East-to-West Eastern-Seaboard Rail, the Bouyuu-Toukaidou, was completed before either of us were born.


Ever since the relocation of the capital during the Jinki Era, it became necessary for a large amount of people to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto. Very soon the older Toukaidou rail reached the limits of its original design and so the government pitched plans for a new bullet train.


The end result was this Bouyuu-Toukaidou “Hiroshige” that ran between Tokyo and Kyoto in just 53 minutes. With this new bullet train, Kyoto and Tokyo were within each others’ commuting range and the rail became an instant lifeline of Japan.


Surprisingly, all of the Bouyuu-Toukaidou line runs underground, forming a straight line from start to finish. There’s no place at all where you can see the sky or sea, mountains or forests, the sun or moon, or anything at all.

 3.竹取飛翔 (Bamboo Cutter’s Flight)
    Lunatic Princess


It’s fine that we’ll get there in no time, but don’t you find looking at this fake landscape boring Renko? If we were riding at night, there would have been a fake full moon floating up in the sky. That doesn’t bother you? There used to be fifty three inn towns along the old eastern seaboard for travelers and now it only takes fifty three minutes? Even though the actual route now from Kyoto, distance-wise, is longer than before. You can’t really call it a trip anymore.”


“Even if the way is short, a trip is still a trip you know. Sightseeing in Tokyo is fun you know? Unlike Kyoto, there are places like Shinjuku and Shibuya where there are a lot of buildings that have a real historical feel to them. If you think of it as having more time to sightsee then there’s no problem right?”


“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Ah, but I wonder if you’d be able to see the same ancient rabbit grinding medicine up on the fake moon as well…”


“Oh, did you know that if the Hiroshige were to go at full speed it would reach the end of the line in less than 53 minutes? It’s just set that way on purpose.”


“Oh right, one minute per night’s stay. Ugh, if it went that slow I wouldn’t have lasted more than three weeks. I guess it really is a short trip.”


Both Usami Renko and Maribel Hearn (Merry) took time out of one of their university breaks to go visit Renko’s parents’ house in Tokyo. That said, Merry, who had never been to Tokyo before, was really just tagging along with Renko who was going for Higan-mairi. Still, she was really looking forward the the trip.


She was also looking forward to the journey itself, but unfortunately the whole length of the Bouyuu-Tokaidou rail ran underground.


Still, It was bright as if it were noon, with light streaming through the windows, and you could see a beautiful Mount Fuji and Pacific Ocean.


That “kaleido-screen” was the number one selling point of the Bouyuu-Tokaido line.

 4.彼岸帰航 (Higan Retour – Return from the Further Shore)
    Riverside View


“Merry. You know there’s a strange custom we have for Higan in Tokyo – have you heard of it?”


“Huh? No I haven’t – what sort of custom?”


“Well it’s the same as a grave visit. You find frayed portions of barriers around grave sites and visit the world of the dead. You know how during the Bon festival your ancestors come back to visit? So in return, during Higan we go and visit them.”


“Really? Ahh… I’m not ready for something like that! Why didn’t you say so earlier?”


“Well, because I was just lying. But I mean, since we’re going all this way we might as well do it right?”


Since the Bouyuu-Tokaidou line was created for the sole purpose of being the most effective means to move people from Tokyo to Kyoto, there were only two stations built.


There were just the East-Tokyo Station and the West-Kyoto Station. In other words there were only stations at the start and end of the line. Since they had departed at the West-Kyoto Station, 36 minutes had already passed.


The landscape outside was that of the Utagawa Hiroshige once saw as he walked from Tokyo to Kyoto along the eastern seaboard. Everywhere you looked everything was beautiful. The sky and the sea, Mount Fuji, and each of the fifty three stops along the way.

 5.青木ヶ原の伝説 (The Legend of Aokigahara)
    Forbidden Forest


“Ah, Just now…”


“What’s wrong Merry? You looked frightened all of a sudden…”


“It’s just that I felt heavy all of a sudden… Don’t you feel it too Renko? Space here seems a bit different from everywhere else. I can also see breaks in the barrier… You don’t think it’s a bug in the screen control program?”


“Ah, that’s probably because we’re under Mount Fuji, a sacred mountain. The air here, no, even the time-space here is probably a bit different than in other places. You’re overly sensitive to things like that so I wouldn’t be surprised if it made you a bit nervous.”


“Under Mount Fuji huh.. Well I guess that makes sense. It’s been said that there’s an entrance to the world of the dead under Mount Fuji. But isn’t Mount Fuji a volcano? Is it safe to run a tunnel under something like that?”


“You really do get worried easily don’t you. Why don’t you just drink some sake or something and stop thinking about it? When Mount Fuji was designated as a global heritage location they determined it wasn’t a dormant volcano anymore, but an extinct one you know?”


At any rate, the Bouyuu-Toukaidou was constructed only with tying Tokyo and Kyoto together in mind, but even the government wasn’t about to do something as reckless as opening a hole under a spiritual mountain like Mount Fuji.


The Bouyuu-Toukaidou avoids Fuji, but runs right under the sea of trees that encircles it.


However, since ancient times there have been a lot of ill legends about the forest, so running right under it probably would have affected fares and the number of customers willing to ride.


So of course, the fact that the line runs right under such a forbidden forest was not released to the public.

 6.お宇佐さまの素い幡 (The White Flag of Usa)
    Most Famous Hero


“Ahaha, morning sake really is great! Anyway, did you know? Apparently this line originally wasn’t only planned to connect Kyoto and Tokyo but was going to have a station in Kamakura as well!”


“You sure do know a lot Renko.”


“Well I guess so. I heard they really wanted to name the line Keito, ‘connecting all three capitals’.”


“That has a nice ring to it doesn’t it.. wait, but Kamakura was never the capital was it? And besides, compared to the distance between Kyoto and Tokyo isn’t Kamakura really close to Tokyo?”


“Yeah, apparently that’s the reason that plan was shelved.”


“You’d think that’s something that would be obvious from the start…. Are you sure someone hasn’t been giving you false information? Someone who’s a big fan of Hachiouji?”


“You know, thinking about it – we say “shelved” but I wonder what sort of shelf those things are put away on…?”


When Fuji comes to mind, Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mount Fuji” is famous, but Hokusai was never satisfied when it came to drawing pictures of Fuji. In fact, 36 Views of Mount Fuji was originally supposed to have 46.


Then Hiroshige, someone less than half his age published “53 Stops Along The Eastern Seaboard” and gained fame. Even though Hokusai had already published 36, not wanting to lose to Hiroshige, he published “100 views of Mount Fuji”. To devote that much time to it, he really must have been taken with that mountain.


But then again, so was Hiroshige.

 7.月まで届け不死の煙 (Reach to the Moon, Immortal Smoke)
    Elixir of Life


At any rate, today’s Japan picked Hiroshige. The Hiroshige rushed underground along the Bouyuu-Toukaidou line. Now, they were probably somewhere near Kamakura.


“You know Renko, this Mount Fuji projected on the tunnel screen, don’t you think it’s a little too dynamic?”


“I don’t think so – I haven’t had much of a chance to take a serious look at the real thing so I can’t say for sure, but isn’t Fuji something like this? Well, since it’s not projecting anything man-made anywhere I guess the view isn’t quite the same…”


“This Fuji seems more like one of Hokusai’s rather than Hiroshige’s. With the scale and everything, it feels like there’s some sort of automatic video re-targeting process going on. Rather than reality I think they’re focusing more on impact.”


“Merry, did you know that Hiroshige, opposing Hokusai, published 36 views of Mount Fuji as well?”


“Really? was it plagiarism? inspiration?”


“Even the name was “36 Views of Mount Fuji”, just spelled differently, and it was published right after Hokusai’s death.”


“Oh wow…”


Within this kaleido-screen landscape with few buildings in sight, Mount Fuji showed itself as great, magnificent, miraculous, and intense.


The real Mount Fuji, due to the efforts of the Mount Fuji Restoration Project, is now beautiful as well. Naturally Fuji commands a great amount of intensity, but perhaps because of the stringent rules put forth by the restoration committee, you don’t see as many people climbing it, and ironically the sightseeing association has taken a big hit.


Japan selected Hiroshige because it couldn’t recognize Hokusai’s genius. After all, Japan has a fundamental problem with insanity.


However, if this bullet train was not called Hiroshige, but instead Hokusai, I wonder what sort of landscape the kaleido-screen would show?


Well there’s no question about it is there? Surely you would be rushing along toward the final destination even faster, enjoying a thirty six minute fantasy of insanity.

    Retrospective Kyoto


“I guess we’ll be reaching Tokyo soon. Still, this trip really feels like it’s missing something.”


“Yeah, but at least we won’t be tired out before we arrive.”


“Well, like you said, this way we’ll have more time to go sightseeing. So do you have planned for today?”


“Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. After we arrive at my parent’s house, first we’ll have to do a Higan grave visit. Once we’ve dropped off our luggage, why don’t we go and look around?”


“So, you mean we’re going to visit the world of the dead?”


“Tokyo is no less a spiritual capital than Kyoto is, so I’m sure it’ll be fun. Well, as long as we’re together, right?”


The ground spirits locked in the hardened asphalt had paid the due time for their sins, and so the streets of Tokyo were filled with cracks.


Part of the city’s encircling rail had become grassland, and mysterious leafless red petaled flowers were covering the roads. As the population had dwindled the number of outdated transportation devices called “automobiles” that used them had as well, so no one seemed to care about what happened to the roads anymore.


Tokyo had become a city where young flashy people lived according to their own rules. It has become a city of townies, militants, and firefighters running all over the place…


Tokyo was returning to the way it was long long ago.

 9.ラクトガール ~ 少女密室
    Locked Girl


“Tokyo is really rural, unlike Kyoto, so there are tons of nostalgic things about.”




“Like the theme parks and huge shopping malls squeezed between all the clustered tall buildings..”


“That sounds fun – So the city still has those sorts of unrefined plebeian amusements?”


“Well lately Kyoto’s been pretty uptight.
As for “amusements” all I can think of is that ‘new tea ceremony’.”


“Well I like tea you know?
And that locked up feel of the tea room is just right.”


Long ago in Tokyo there was a time when food theme parks were popular. There were shops boasting delicious food from all over the country, gathered all in one place. Maybe it lacked elegance, but it was really popular among the people living there.


Even as far back as the Edo period, there were great eating competitions with fearless participants undaunted even by death. If you think about it that way, food theme parks being popular in Tokyo nowadays just makes sense.


The blood of Edo surely runs through the streets of Tokyo.


Drawing closer to a city that had passed age upon age, one she hadn’t seen except for in pictures in books, Merry’s excitement rose.

10.千年幻想郷 (Gensoukyou of a Thousand Years)
    History of the Moon


“Fuji is getting smaller. You can already see Tokyo ahead.”


“After listening to you talk, I’ve really started to look forward to Tokyo.”


“Well, it’s coming from me after all. Even so, I can’t deny that looking at it from a psychological-emotional standpoint, compared to Kyoto, Tokyo’s still immature as a city.”


“Well it’s fine to be that way every once and a while.”


“The gaps in the boundary are all left as is around here. It’s a huge difference compared to Kyoto, which has been conducting spiritual research for over a thousand years.”


“Ah, here comes the staff roll.
So they’re claiming their rights even over a landscape like this.”


Outside the window letters started to appear. The 53 minute kaleido-screen was reaching its end.


Naturally, you wouldn’t think a landscape as someone’s work of art, and this was supposedly based off of what Hiroshige saw on his journey along the Toukaidou.


Even so, humans were trying to put their name on it. All of the passengers, looking out at the landscape they might have taken for the real thing, saw creators names appear and disappear, disappear and appear.

 風景の真ん中に「Designed by Utagawa Hiroshige」と言う文章が浮かんだのを最後に、

At the very end, right in the middle of the scene the sentence “Designed by Utagawa Hiroshige” appeared, and then the world closed unto darkness.

11.最も澄みわたる空と海 (A Perfectly Clear Sky and Sea)


Neither the high dynamic lens projection,
 Nor the penultimate Japanese landscape,
  Can match the true color of the sky.


There probably isn’t any one human left who holds such an outdated view.
 After all, virtual reality is more stimulating than actual reality.
  Just as dreams and reality cannot be differentiated,
   How humans and butterflies cannot be differentiated,
    It’s common sense that virtual reality and actual reality cannot be either.


And it goes with out saying, Humanity’s true nature is virtual.


  Though the body may flutter to the ground like a flower petal
  The soul floats up into the sky like an incense.



Continuing their trivial 53 minute conversation above ground, the two girls put Tokyo Station behind them.

あとがき / Afterword


Nice to meet you, (or something along those lines) this is ZUN.


This Retrospective 53 Minutes has no development, and no plot points. It’s basically a narration by someone eavesdropping on an ordinary conversation between the two members of the Sealing Club, wondering what they’re talking about. Still, it’s a “Happy Ending” of sorts.


The person sitting in the seat next to the girls listens and sort of acts the straight man to the girls based on what he’s thinking. That’s the narration. Yeah… really.
But those two really are sharp for their age. Smart girls are cool.


The theme of this story is the same as in Changeability of a Strange Dream: dreams and reality, virtual reality and actual reality. I would like you to imagine a more advanced form of virtual reality than is available today. This CD is one you can more comfortably listen to (or read) isn’t it?


Often, in anime or games whenever a bizarre crime occurs, there’s a victim. In this case someone high and mighty would probably say “Properly distinguish between actual reality and virtual reality!”, or “This is something that everyone can do!” etc. etc. But that’s pointless. You shouldn’t be able to in the first place.


It is said that geniuses excel in dreams. The soul abandons the body and you can call upon things outside the realm of reality. The knowledge and experiences gained in the process aren’t meaningless. The difference between virtual reality and actual reality is really like the difference between soft and hard. You can’t properly divide things between the two.


Don’t you think so too?


If that weren’t the case, music wouldn’t have any effect on people.
The virtual reality you experience when listening to music is the result of replaying something that didn’t necessarily exist in the first place.


Once you’ve experienced music, don’t say anything about differentiating between actual and virtual reality, but instead act with the knowledge that it can’t be done.

                     上海アリス幻樂団 ZUN(旅に出たい)
        Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra ZUN (I want to go on a journey)

夢違科学世紀 ~ Changeability of Strange Dream.

Renko and that other girl. You do learn about Merry quite a bit more in this episode though. ^_^

A circle is a club. I didn’t feel like changing it. o.o

Added a short paragraph that was missing to the end of part five. (2012/10/13)

夢違科学世紀 ~ Changeability of Strange Dream.
 Yume-tagae Kagaku Seiki ~ Changeability of Strange Dream.
 The Century of Science Mistaking Dreams ~ Changeability of a Strange Dream.

1.童祭 (Children’s Festival)
  Innocent Treasures


In order to counter dreams, the memories of a world in phantom morning mist,
The waking world sets upon a crumbling foundation of sand.
Histories of an ancient mystic world sprung from imagined dreams,
The waking light thrusts into sinking alleys.


(Day is breaking. In the middle of this phantom morning mist, day is breaking.
I was playing together with children in a land of fantasy.
All of the children were so happy. Everyone was laughing.)


Is it an illusion, or a tower built upon the sand?
Until day breaks, this dream – a butterfly’s dream.


(… I wonder when was the last time I saw a child laughing this much?
Then I listened to a strange song before, and there was a strange dance. Today must be a festival.
I thought that one day I too wanted to live in a country that had such children’s smiles.)


In order to counter dreams, the stark colors of a phantom scarlet mansion,
The waking world sets upon a bloodless foundation of stone.
Fairy tales of an ancient beautiful capitol, sprung from imagined dreams,
The waking light thrusts down degrading alleys.

2.華胥の夢 (Paradisiacal Dream)
  Paradisiacal Daydream


“So as I was saying, last night I had this sort of dream..”
“…Wait, you mean you want to talk about your dreams again?”
“Well, I called you over today to talk about dreams actually..”


 My name is Maribel Hearn. Here, in the middle of this dark street, I’m participating in an occult circle. It’s different from your ordinary occult circle; our circle doesn’t really do any “spiritual” activities, so we’re sort of considered a delinquent group, but… Well I call it a circle, but we are the only two members.


“Don’t you think telling other people your dreams is a bit inconveniencing?”


 That aside, the truth is that I have an amazing power. I’ve heard that since long ago people in my family have had spiritual perception, but well…
 I can see magical barriers, and all their boundaries all throughout the world. Our circle searches for gaps in those boundaries and tries leaping into other worlds. I guess you’d call it being spirited away?


 … It is prohibited though.
 But lately, I’ve been having dreams of various other worlds…


 ”Please!If I don’t tell you my dreams and get counseling from you, I feel that I’ll lose sight of which one of us is the real me!”

3.上海紅茶館 (Shanghai Black Tea House)
  Chinese Tea


Beyond a deep thicket of green, there was a bright red mansion.
All around the mansion was that same deep green, and the shining white of a lake……
What a wonderful view…
Even though it was that red, somehow it seemed to melt into the nature around it.
Somehow I felt the coloring had a sort of childish feel to it…… I loved it.


Should I go visit for a little while?
Would it be rude to just appear all of a sudden?
Even before that, would this mansion before me take me in?
… Wait? What am I flustering about? This is a dream.


…… Ah, it looks like they have some hired help.
I wonder if I should go ask her?
Something like, “I would like to see the master of this lovely mansion..”

4.ヴォヤージュ 1969 (Voyage 1969)
  1969, from Cape Canaveral


No matter where I go it all looks the same.
The sun’s already set and now I can’t hardly see my feet……


I had gotten that lost at night in a bamboo forest.
Every now and then far away I could hear a strange calling voice. Was it some animal, or…?
What should I do? This is bad.
If I stay lost in the bamboo forest like this, I wonder if I’ll end up starving to death?
Or maybe I’ll be eaten by a youkai? I have so many things left that I want to do though…


I wandered aimlessly, lost.
When I get hungry I’ll probably be alright if I eat bamboo shoots or something – I figured I’d be fine with a simple solution like that.
–After all, this is a dream.
But still, I realized then that I had no idea what a natural bamboo shoot was.
I had only seen those synthesized ones – I only knew what it tasted like.


At wits end I stared up at the sky.
It was filled with stars.
For the first time I grew envious of your eyes.
If it were you, you’d know immediately exactly where you were. You wouldn’t have gotten lost.


As soon as I’d thought that, I heard an creepy laugh right behind me!!

5.科学世紀の少年少女 (Boy and Girl of the Century of Science)
  21th Century Boy and Girl


“This is a biscuit I received at that scarlet mansion, and here’s a natural bamboo shoot I picked up in the bamboo forest.”
“Huh? I thought you said this was a dream? Merry?”
 The one that was listening to me tell my dreams is named Usami Renko. She’s the other member of our circle of only two. Most of our circle’s activities come from her ideas. When Renko looks at the sky she can tell where she is and what time it is at the moment. It’s creepy.


By the way, Renko calls me Merry. Apparently for the people of this country my name is fairly difficult to pronounce. I wonder if I’m going to end up forgetting my real name?


“It was a dream. Haven’t you been listening to me?”
“……So if it was a dream, why did those things in your dream materialize here in reality?”
“Like I was saying, that’s why I’ve come to talk to you.”


 I’ve started to lose sight of what is real and what is a dream. When I dream, it almost always ends with me being chased by youkai. I guess you would call it a nightmare… but well, you know…
Still, before I know it I’m holding the things that I’d found in my dream, so I started to wonder if what I’m doing right now isn’t a dream……


“You know Merry, That’s not a bamboo ‘shoot’ anymore. It’s already grown so much that it’s too hard to be edible.”
But, if I could somehow change this nightmare into a good dream, it would be far better than this reality…
“You see, when natural bamboo shoots are most delicious, they hide under the ground to protect themselves.”

6.永夜の報い (Retribution for an Endless Night)
  Imperishable Night


I ran as hard as I could. Even though it was in a dream.
I couldn’t really figure out why, but I knew that that laughing voice I had just heard wasn’t human.
Instinct told me, “Run!”


But the bamboo forest was strangely inclined and it threw off my sense of balance.
I tried to running straight ahead, but where did I really go?


I felt that I had run a long way, but all I saw again and again were places I’d already been to.
Does this bamboo forest continue on forever? Or am I just running around in circles?
…… Whichever the case it’s still the same.


Renko’s sort of “from an objective point of view the truth can be found” way of thinking is antiquated you know.


The truth is found in a subjective view.
If all I see are the places I’ve already been to, then within these the true place lies.


So, that’s why I’m running.
After all, a dream isn’t an antonym of reality.
According to common sense nowadays it’s a synonym.
Even if I am in a dream, I should run away from things that could be dangerous. That is truth.


Going along with that line of thought, I’m majoring in relative psychiatry.
By the way, Renko’s majoring in super unified physics. Lately there’s been that string theory research… I wonder if that’s going along well?

7.夜が降りてくる (The Night Comes Falling)
  Evening Star


But it’s strange…
There are many people like you with an antiquated way of thinking that consider dreams and reality to be exact opposites, but if you look a lot farther into the past, people didn’t distinguish any difference between dreams and reality.


Nowadays, we do differentiate between them, but consider them both the same.
The reality of reality and the reality of dreams, the real me and the dream me, both exist.


Is the nighttime butterfly me? Is the daytime human me?
Common sense today says both are.


I felt like I had run far far away, but I didn’t feel tired at all.
Was it because I had moved as if I were flying in the sky? Did I become a butterfly or something?


But I had found the goal line of my sprint….


–I stopped running.
Just ahead in the bamboo, there was something giving off a deep red light.
The light was an ominous color, not something you’d find in reality.
Putting it into words you’d understand…
Perhaps it was closest to the glow given off by a rubidium flame?


I know it doesn’t exist, but it wasn’t the shining bamboo from that one story.
Still being cautious about what might be behind me, I looked over in the direction of that light.

8.人形裁判 ~ 人の形弄びし少女
   (Dolls’ Judgement ~ The Girl Who Played With People’s Shapes)
  Doll Master


Ah, what had I set my eyes upon!
Even though we live in an age where you can see extinct mountain wolves and kappa in 3DCG…
I hadn’t seen any creature like it before.

……いや、兎だったのかな? 眼が赤かったし。

It was bigger than a mountain wolf, and was black like a rat. Only its eyes were red.
…Wait, was it a rabbit? Its eyes were red after all…
But it’s look was strange…
There were two eyes on it’s face like this… just like your eyes are.
Well like all humans’ are…


The size of its face was about the same as a humans too.
So it had a human’s face? Well now that I think of it did. It had a human face – definitely
A large rat with a human face… Do you know any sort of creature like that?


–At that time the large rat let out a creepy voice that I recognized.
So this rat was the one who was chasing after me!
But this time it wasn’t looking at me. It was looking in the direction of that deep red light.


It wasn’t that big rat’s eyes that was making everything glow red!
The creepy rat was actually afraid of the reddish light.
I then turned towards the light…

9.夢と現の境界 (The Boundary Between Dreams and Reality)
  Wake up Mysterious Girl


“So anyway, This is a piece of paper that fell after the big rat and that girl disappeared.”
“Hey, are you sure this was a dream?”


 The true form of the red light the big rat was facing was this incredible girl. She was glowing scarlet. Why? Well at first glance it looked as if she was entirely engulfed in flame.


 Well that’s not really the correct way to describe her. Rather, the fire was coming from within, and furthermore two blazes of deep crimson slanted upward out of her body, as if she were a bird with its wings outspread….


 Anyway, compared to the big rat with a face, this girl was on a completely different level of ominous. This girl had only to raise her hand for the big rat to run away in fear.

 結局、その女の子は何者だったの? その後どうなったの?」
 大鼠を追っ払って貰ったのにどうして隠れてたの、だって? まぁ……」

 ”Like-I-was-saying! Dreams and reality are the same! Haven’t you been listening at all?!
  From my perspective meeting here with you now might really be a dream…”
 ”Ok, Ok, I’m here to listen to your dreams, you know? Calm down, already – Merry.”
  So in the end, just what was that girl? What happened next?”
 ”I don’t know. After that, the big rat ran away… and the girl disappeared too.
  Then I hid myself from both the big rat and the girl for a long, long time.
  She did chase away the rat for me, so why did I hide from her too? Well…”


 I saw her eyes perfectly, they were a deep red, never failing, far surpassing that of the rat’s–
 ”She wasn’t human…”

10.幻想機械 (Illusionary Factory)
   Phantom Factory


 In the end, just telling me all her dreams, Merry left satisfied.
 Looking down at the few things Merry had given me, I organized my thoughts. Merry said that dreams and reality are the same, but there’s no way that could be true. Even if that’s what the current relative psychiatric school of thought states, at its worst it only concerns dreams versus reality within the field of psychiatry. When things from dreams start materializing in reality, we’ve got a problem. It breaks the law of conservation of mass – and what about entropy?
 I was certain that while Merry didn’t realize it, she had flown beyond a world boundary. But she believed that it was only a dream. Now, that world beyond must be extremely close to her… Merry’s ability to see boundaries couldn’t have transformed into an ability to control…? No, that’s impossible – that can’t be it. I wonder if it’s because she’s been too engaged in our circle’s activities recently…
 At this rate, she could be eaten by one of the youkai in her dreams – or spirited away. Merry’s thoughts have been wandering across various worlds, so if she’s in another world and realizes that it’s not a dream, she might not be able to come back. She’ll probably end up thinking that this world is the dream. She doesn’t know, but she’s actually in an incredibly dangerous situation.


  As for counseling measures, I can think of two things I can do.


  I could throw away these things she’s given me and force her to believe completely that her dreams were just that – dreams, or illusions.
  If I did that, she would probably lose the ability to realistically travel to the dream world. Dreams and reality are, and should be, separate things after all.


  The other thing I could do…


  I could, rather than convincing her it was a dream, force her to understand that she actually was in another world, and wake her from her dreams.
  If I did that, she wouldn’t die in that dream world without knowing the truth…
  But… if I did that, she might not be able to return to this world.


  Which is better for her? Which is the right answer from my perspective?
  …It has to be that one.

11.幽玄の槭樹 (Mystic Maple Tree)
   Eternal Dream

「惜しいって何? というか、今日は何の用かしら?」

“God Renko, you’re always late!”
“Merry, I’m only three minutes and fifteen seconds late – just barely missed it.”
“Huh? Well whatever – What’s it for today?”
“Circle activities of course. We’ve got the whole team together after all!”
“That’s only the two of us you know – So have you found another entrance?”


There was only one answer. Merry’s dream world.
Beautiful, natural, an just a bit mysterious.


A Shinto shrine far from civilization,
Children frolicking,
Deep green and white sparkling lakes,
A scarlet mansion and tea time under the shade of trees,
A bamboo so wide as to make you lost and natural bamboo shoots,
A creature with a human face, and
That ominous bird of flame――


It’s unfair for only Merry to get to see all that!!!


“Of course – If there’s an entrance to that other world, we’ll be able to find it.
After all, I’ve got a lead.”
“Lead? Aren’t those just the things from my dream? Renko?”
“Like I was saying, we’re going to search for your dream world.
Merry, do you know why the children of this country don’t look happy?”




“It’s because of academics like you,
that they’ve come to see dreams and reality as the same thing.
They fall into the trap of thinking dreams are simply images shown at the back of your brain, nothing more than a scientific phenomenon.
You know, other than that subjective view, there’s an objective view that you can believe in. An absolute truth.
A subjective view holds the truth? What you’re saying is a contradiction. That theory is wrong.
Proof of that is that you, giving up your subjective view, dream.
Dreams and reality are different. Because of that, you can work to make dreams into reality.
That’s how those children could smile.
 Come on, wake up.
 We’re changing your dream into reality.
 We’re going to bring that dream world into reality!”




 Nice to meet you (probably), this is ZUN. I’ve formed a band of only a Shinto priests! Of course that’s a lie. I’m just scraping by, working at the Hakurei Shrine.


 This time around I’ve made a CD of music with a sort of strange basis… Wait this is the third one. Wow, I’ve made a lot of creepy CDs haven’t I? Alright everyone, let’s cross our fingers and say “go away!”


 Anyway, this time I’ve selected from quite a broad range of previous works, though they are mostly shooting game themes at heart – enough to tire you out. The CD’s full of songs that you can’t just listen to one at a time… By the way, you shouldn’t listen to these one at a time you know? Anyway I’ve assigned a different sort of meaning/story to them here. In the games they have the stories from the games… it’s a sort of world balance.


 The first song “Children’s Festival” was my entrance theme from a talk event a few days ago. I’ve written a lot of various character themes, but making a theme for myself was really difficult – and embarrassing.
 I actually made lyrics for it, but the comments for it sort of are lyrical. It’s a song of travelling back and forth through dreams and reality, and which in the end was the truth.

が、科学が進化すると天然の筍が食べられなくなるのでしょうか? 可哀想に。

 Anyway, I’m a bit worried about where those two from the Sealing Club ended up…
 Yes, yes, Merry and Renko from in this work made a mysterious circle called the Sealing Club, and do this and that sort of occult activities. I haven’t written anything specific about it, but as science advances, will we become unable to eat natural bamboo shoots? How depressing…


 But then you might be able to have crested ibis miso soup. Synthetically.


 Thinking of that, I’m filled with dreams of what the future might bring.


 Since the outside is somewhat dangerous and you can’t really play to your heart’s content, you have to imagine the emotions of other people beyond the internet (this is difficult even for adults), and there aren’t any adults who will correct your mistakes, but will sometimes scold you or worse. The net nowadays is too harsh for children, and I don’t think they’re raised to be able to hang out with adults.


Still, while the hearts of children are growing narrower and narrower in this country, perhaps there will come a day when children play out in the streets filled with smiles. Synthetically.

上海アリス幻樂団 ZUN(筍好き)

Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra ZUN (A lover of bamboo shoots)

蓬莱人形 ~ Dolls in Psuedo Paradise.

^ (Alice’s Hourai has nothing to do with the story, but this picture of her fit the “Neither Human nor Youkai” subject’s description absolutely perfectly, so I ran with it).

This is a brilliant masterpiece when you put it together. Can you find the killer? I love music, it can never fully be explained. Just like this.

The first block of text is from the C62 Version and the second block of text is from the edition after that. The exception is the text-heavy track “Reincarnation” of which the part after “interlude” is still part of the C62 Version.

If you haven’t listened to Hourai Dolls before, I really suggest you do.
I recommend all of the tracks, “二色蓮花蝶 ~ Red and White” and “桜花之恋塚 ~ Japanese Flower” and “Circus Reverie” are some of my favorites, but “明治十七年の上海アリス” (Meiji 17 Shanghai Alice), “Reincarnation”, and 永遠の巫女 (Eternal Shrine Maiden) and a few others from the PC-98 era have very noticable changes from their first appearances, and I feel are much richer.

ZUN really is a brilliant composer, though I figure most people who don’t have a flavor for that “game music from a lost age” as ZUN puts it wouldn’t recognize it until the great explosion of arrange groups take and transform the originals through different genres and even more transformations.

By the way, if you have the cover (of the “press version”) that shows the culprit (of the C62 story).

I feel that I haven’t really yet edited it to the point where it feels fully English, but in not doing so I feel I’ve kept some of the original structure instead. I don’t know yet whether I’m ok with that, so I may re-edit it in the future, but here it is for now. ^_^

蓬莱人形 ~ Dolls in Psuedo Paradise.
 Hourai Ningyou ~ Dolls in Psuedo Paradise
 Hourai Dolls ~ Dolls in Pseudo Paradise

C62 Story // Press Version Story


We – the honest village, were originally a group of just eight.
We had all decided together to move into the eastern mountains and pass the time for two years. Everyday was an honest tedium.
One day, one of our number found a small hole in the curve of a peach tree. Yes, it was from then on that we stumbled into paradise.
Then and there, I quit being human.

   Hourai Densetsu
   The Legend of Hourai


I, the most curious of our group, hurried ahead first and set my sights deep into the forest. There I was stopped by a mysterious clown. For whatever reason it happily held out to me the jeweled branch of Hourai. When I reached out to take it, in that very instant my head was separated from my body. I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t ever see my friends again.
And then there were seven honest ones left.


The elixir of immortality couldn’t be found even by the servants of the emperor Qin Shi Huang…
…But I wonder if you could find the jeweled branch of Hourai.

2.二色蓮花蝶 ~ Red and White
   Nishoku Renkachou
   Bichromatic Lotus Butterfly ~ Red and White


In the morning, I saw a red and white shrine maiden dancing on the surface of a pond. The earliest riser of our group, I was fascinated by her ruthless and radical dance for quite some time. Eventually it began to rain, and when I came to my senses, the shrine maiden had vanished.

 あら、あの娘… 人間でも妖怪でもないみたい

It looks like another strange person’s found their way in again.
I should do something before they make it to the shrine…
Ah, that girl… it doesn’t seem like she is either human or youkai…

3.桜花之恋塚 ~ Japanese Flower
   Ouka no Koidzuka ~ Japanese Flower
   Lovely Mound of Cherry Blossoms ~ Japanese Flower


The rain knew no end. A shrine maiden, her body drenched, was disappearing as if she were melting into the rain. While I was captivated by the shrine maiden, the rain became a frightful storm, and I, the most beautiful of our group, was captured by a clown. Then the clown vanished into the storm, and I was unable to return to our group.
And then there were six honest ones left.


I wonder if even now under that cherry tree * is sleeping.
Those crimson flower petals year after year are growing lighter.
There probably isn’t anything left under the ground anymore.

   Meiji 17 (1884) Shanghai Alice


At night, we six held an exotic party. I, the youngest of our group could not yet drink alcohol or smoke opium, so I was extremely bored. Alone I crept away from the event, but in the pitch darkness I was captured by an ominous clown. My head was easily taken. I was never again able to be bored.
And then there were five honest ones left.


The opium smoke hovered like a cloud, and passed into that place in the town. I live in a land concession. The people wearing colorful clothes and dancing the waltz, their magic won’t reach me here.

   Touhou Kaikidan
   Eastern Fantastic Tale


I ran until I was out of breath. I, the most cowardly of our group, had grown afraid of this paradise. I had thought as much, but no matter how far I ran, I couldn’t find the way back. Already the one I loved had disappeared, and whether or not she was alive there was nothing I could do – at length and in despair I strung a rope over a thick branch and tied it around my neck.
…For some reason, I’m conscious. Was the rope too brittle?…
I, the most cowardly of our group, was reborn. Having nothing left to lose, I decided to pretend to be human just once more.


“Youkai? Nowadays that’s just nonsense.”
But I know: If the youkai let humans think that, then they can live in peace.
Youkai are far more peaceful and realistic than humans.

   Enigmatic Doll


When I woke up, the five of us were in the dark. According to one of us, we were belaid by a strange clown. The other four were constructing infantile escape plans. I, the most wise of our group, saw that it would be fine to just wait it out, but in the end, I never said it aloud.
The four’s plan was carried out according to plan, and against my calculations suceeded, but I was never able to escape from the darkness.
While I was killing time in endless darkness, I felt a presence right behind me, but I just let things go as they would. I felt something hot on my back.

 っちゃうのよ? あの目は本物の目よ。

Ah, this doll, I really want to throw it away.
After all, those blue eyes. Sometimes a black crow comes and takes them away in its mouth. Those eyes are real. I know, because I’m always putting in new ones.

   Circus Reverie


We were able to make our brilliant escape. We felt like geniuses, and went back to the place we were staying at in paradise.
No one had any doubts about the other.
We were all honest. We were all great friends…


So, up next is the bird-man!
This man called “bird-man” exists only far in the south country, and even there is rare, a child born from a bird of paradise. His parents died long ago, and so was a poor lonely child. But we saved him from that! Aren’t we great?

   Ningyou no Mori
   Forest of Dolls


Paradise prepared us a perfect building to live in. This ancient western mansion deep in the forest has always let us stay in. It always has a great store of food, but now we do with half.
Since when was our honest number halved?


The rain won’t stop.
Since I’ve wandered into this house, I haven’t seen the sun once. I wonder how many days have passed?
The doll began to talk to me.
I twisted the doll’s head off. It looked as if the rain had stopped.

9.Witch of Love Potion

それが惚れ薬−Love Potion−入りだったとは…

We always have tea in the afternoon, and the bitter coffee I always have today tasted a bit sweet.
Was this the one with the love potion in it?…
I, the most mature of our group, in love with a beautiful clown, happily fell asleep.
And then there were three honest ones left.


Of course not. I’m not an idiot.
I was just laughed at for telling my friend.
That the shop over there was selling a love potion.
So without telling anyone, I broke the piggy bank.


いたんだ。一体どっちの仕業だろう? 暗闇の中恐怖に顔

I saw that one of my friends was clearly killed with poison. There’s no way it could have been suicide. I was the one who chose everyone’s coffee according to their tastes and carried it to their rooms. I didn’t tell the other two of his death. I, the most wary of out group, didn’t eat anything besides the food I prepared myself. I desperately stayed awake until the other two were sound asleep. We had gone into separate rooms and locked the doors. Yes, I suspected one of the two.
Somewhere near by I heard the sound of a something being nailed into a tree. Which of them is behind this? In the darkness my face twisted in fear. Matched in time with the sounds, my hands and legs began to hurt. It felt as if 15 centimeter nails were being knocked into them. I considered whether I should consult a medium, and then I realized the obvious.
Of course, I’m being nailed into a tree and can’t move. Which of them is doing it?
Then I felt the final nail against my brow.
Then just as I predicted I saw a face.
Before I had time to yell out, the light went completely out.

– interlude


You were way too much of a coward.
Don’t you realize that being honest only sets yourself up to meet a cruel fate?
Did this escape from the world paralyze your old sharp senses?
Don’t you yearn for the bustling town, for riches and happiness?
I, in the past was a thief with the rest, and I just wanted to re-live my life.
Having finished the job, I began preparations for breakfast, and waited for night to lift.


In the first place, a western mansion standing in a forest with no roads leading to it is strange. The girl that lives there rarely comes to the village. However, lately I’ve seen what looks like her daughter. Why do I say her daughter?
Well, she looks exactly like that girl when she was a child…

   U.N. Owen wa Kanojo na no ka?
   U.N. Owen was Her?


Barely hanging on to consciousness, I, the earliest riser, was already at death’s door. There was something in this morning’s ham and eggs. How stupid of me, to not know anything even though we’ve come down to two. It was all *s fault, when * went mad I should have killed *.
But whatever I might do, it’s just too late.
I felt that I saw a shrine maiden, was this just an hallucination of mine?
Even so, was the color of her hair really that blonde?
In exchange for my life, I wished that I could see this hallucination just a little while longer. It seemed that wish was only granted to one before me.


You really have no imagination. It was as if you wanted to fall into the trap. If the culprit was one with the imaginative power of U.N. Owen, they’d have your neck on a rope before breakfast.

   Eien no Miko
   Eternal Shrine Maiden



I, the one who had been reborn, yesterday after dinner was assaulted by an intense sleepiness. My head hurt like it was going to split in two. I can’t remember anything that happened last night, just that it felt like I was watching a long dream. If only I didn’t have to watch the reality facing me now…
Just what is this? One poisoned by coffee, one nailed to a tree, and another beheaded….
I whispered the last having prepared a chair and a rope. The last one killed had to have been the one poisoned by the coffee.
So, just what is the meaning of this?
It’s probably that.
There was something put into my food last night.
But what does that matter? Now I’m all alone.
This time I tied a strong rope to the ceiling, and kicked a tall chair.
This time for sure, my body won’t ever hit the ground again.
And then the honest group was none


Today nothing happened.
Tomorrow I have nothing planned.
No one comes here, humans or gods.
Youkai? Ah, well they come every day.

   Sora Tobu Miko no Fushigi na Mainichi
   The Strange Everyday of a Sky Flying Shrine Maiden




The shrine maiden of paradise spent the summer in an unchanging peace.
On one of those summer days, the shrine maiden wrote this in her diary.

August Xth
About all that happened today was that I met a beautiful blonde haired girl walking out from the direction of the ruins of the western style mansion in the forest. I felt like i had seen that girl somewhere before, but I didn’t waste my thoughts on such a trivial thing. In jest, that girl stuck out her tongue and quickly bowed with a great smile on her face and went off in the direction of the exit to paradise. What a strange girl.
Now that I think of it. That girl was the only female in that group of honest eight. But what does that matter.
Ah… today’s another boring day.

In this paradise “Gensoukyou” the number of humans dropped by eight, and seven corpses were safely carried off by youkai. Gensoukyou has lost the honest group for all eternity. Well, it’s just a numerical shift.
That’s not important news.


Lately, the number of people that’ll say thoughtless things such as “that’s magic” or “that’s a youkai’s doing” are increasing. How depressing.

C62 Composer’s Greeting




I’m sure this is the first time, so nice to meet you, this is ZUN. I’ve been composing for a long time, but just now thoughtlessly have put out a music CD. The contents are really sort of against the times, retro love as it were. It’s especially not the sort of stylish, dance-game type of music, but is a perfect match for the people that love the straight game music from long ago (a small few of you I’m sure). Also, it’s also girly-tastic so for people with that sort of hobby, I’d like you to listen as well.

From here on out, I’d like to continue composing eastern and western antique original melodies.

By the way, it’s possible that while listening to this CD for some reason you can’t feel at ease.
That’s because when people (or other things) depart from the road, they can’t fully safe.
Hourai Dolls is probably an unhealing CD. With all the hanging and all…

 2002.8.11 ZUN(正直村の隠し子、最も高所恐怖症な僕)
    Illegitimate Child of the Honest Village, the Most Acrophobic of Them All.

Press Ver. Composer’s Greeting


Nice to meet you if this indeed is the first time – this is ZUN. This CD is the press version of the one released at C62.
The tracks themselves are all ones I made a long time ago, so listening to them now is a bit embarassing. Most of them are arranges of tracks I used in my own shooting games.
If you would recognize of the feel of the long gone by arcade era’s game music listening to this, it would make me happy.


Also, to those people throwing away Japan and flying off overseas, I would like you to listen too.

(Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra)
            Music Composer / Arranger ZUN

Translated by Kafka Fuura

蓮台野夜行 ~ Ghostly Field Club.

I’ve wanted to translate these myself, and I was going to start with Hourai Dolls, but I didn’t have a copy of BOTH the original and revised scripts (completely different), which I wanted to post together, so I’ve begun with the first appearances of Renko (Usami Renko) and Merry (Maribel Hearn). I’m a really big fan of Renko and I really like the strange connection between Yukari and Merry, we’ll see where this goes…!

蓮台野夜行 ~ Ghostly Field Club.
 Rendai-no Yakou ~ Ghostly Field Club
 Lotus Pedastal Field Nightly Excursion ~ Ghostly Field Club

おおよそ始めまして、 ZUNです。

Nice to meet you if this is the first time, ZUN here.
I aimed to make this a CD such that when you listened to it, strange spirits would gather.
I tried making both the jacket and tracks two sides of the same whole this time, so if you have the time, try reading the comments together with each track.
By the way, I’d rather you cover the exorcism expenses yourself.

   Yoru no Dendera-no wo Yuku
   Walking at Night through Dendera Field


“Yes, it’s this and no mistake.”
So said Renko as she showed me the note attached to the photograph. Since I took the time to come all the way out here on a chilly autumn night, it’d be a problem if we didn’t find anything. But to be honest, I wanted to avoid doing something that looked like we were upsetting graves.

   Shoujo Hifuu Club
   Girls’ Secret Seals Club / Girls’ Sealing Club


“Merry, wanna go see the entrance in Rendai-no?”
Renko came to me with that story two days ago.
We the Secret Seals Club, consist of two members, and are simply one of those spiritual medium / exorcist circles that you often find. Well, we are a mediums’ circle, but we’re not fond of exorcism or spiritual mediation. From the outside we’re thought of as a deliquent group that doesn’t do any proper spiritual activities, but you see the truth is…

3.東方妖々夢 ~ Ancient Temple
   Touhou Youyoumu ~ Ancient Temple
   Eastern Bewitching Dream ~ Ancient Temple


“What do you mean the entrance in Rendai-no? Renko.”
I hadn’t heard of any entrance in Rendai-no, and coming all of a sudden out of the blue I really didn’t have anything else to day.
“Well just have a look.”
Renko pulled out a photograph of an ancient temple, a temple I’d never seen before.
“This is the world of the dead.”

   Inishie no Meikai-ji
   Ancient Temple of the Afterlife


“Why do you have anything like a ‘photo of the world of the dead’?”
“I have my own set of backroads you know, Merry.”
I had no idea what kind of ‘backroads’ she was talking about, but it was probably some corpse-partnered spiritual photography or something or another.
“So, this photograph, look behind the temple gate…”

5.幻視の夜 ~ Ghostly Eyes
   Genshi no Yoru ~ Ghostly Eyes
   Illusionary Night ~ Ghostly Eyes


“See? The gate right here. Just beyond it. That’s clearly the apparent world isn’t it?”
In the place she pointed was a night plain, and there a single gravestone was standing. The color of the air was different. Certainly that’s the color of our world…
I debated whether or not to tell Renko she used the wrong word to describe the gate.*

   Majutsushi Merry
   The Magician Merry


Yes, the hidden face of the Secret Seals Club is an organization that exposes magical barriers. Since there’s a risk that doing so would upset the balance of worlds it’s forbidden, but well… At any rate, I can see the boundaries of the barriers. Whether I do anything or not, I just see them. Because of that it’s sort of inevitable you know?

   Tsuki no Youchou, Bakeneko no Maboroshi
   Faerie Bird of the Moon, Phantom Cat’s Illusion


Now that I think of it, Renko said “The entrance in Rendai-no” didn’t she? Did she figure out where the entrance was just from the photograph?
“It’s simple. You can see the moon and stars in the photo right here can’t you?”
Apparently Renko can tell the current time by the light of the stars, and by looking just at the moon can tell the place she’s in. She’s always saying how my eyes give her the creeps, but I think Renko’s eyes are more disturbing.

8.過去の花 ~ Fairy of Flower
   Kako no Hana ~ Fairy of Flower
   Flower of the Past ~ Fairy of Flower


Higanbana, or lycori, are disturbing. I hate those flowers. I have ever since I was a child. The entrance is the grave in Rendai-no that has the most lycori growing out from it. For some reason I said that all of a sudden.
Renko said if I said that’s where it was then there could be no mistake, and believed me without a doubt. And so our target was set.

   Mahou Shoujo Juujigun
   Magical Girls’ Crusade


Finally the day of the “Rendai-no Barrier Breach Investigation” arrived!
Since going “on a night with nary a soul” would be best, we set out at night. It was all fine up till we set off in high spirits, but when we arrived in Rendai-no, I quickly had cooled down.
Oh right… Rendai-no’s a graveyard……

10.少女幻葬 ~ Necro-Fantasy
    Shoujo Gensou ~ Necro-Fantasy
    Girls’ Illusionary Burial ~ Necro-Fantasy


–Just as Renko said, the target was a gravestone, but I don’t see anything. She urged me on. I poked about the grave, tried pulling out the wooden grave marker and did this and that. Looking up at the sky, Renko muttered, “2:27:41”. Ugh. In the end the one doing the grave-robbing spectacle is me. The gravestone was heavy so I had just gotten it turned around, but……
“Exactly 2:30!!” It was the time right when after four minutes I had turned the gravestone one time around.
Even though it was autumn, a world, its image filled completely by cherry blossoms, was spread before me.

    Gensou no Eiensai
    Eternal Festival of Fantasy


The red leaves of autumn had just about ended, and our delinquent circle was still moving along bit by bit. My partner, who has a habit of looking up at the sky and muttering the time whenever it was night – was now late for our meeting.
“I’m sorry I’m late!”
“Two minutes and nineteen seconds late.”
My partner handed me a photograph, and started talking as usual.
 ”More importantly, Merry:
  Don’t you want to go see the entrance at the Hakurei Shrine?”

(Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra)
            Music Composer / Arranger ZUN

Translated by Kafka Fuura

Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia – Chapter 21 – “The Universe that the Youkai Saw”

So here it is! What you’ve all been waiting for! (Well maybe not.) At any rate I feel like I’ve contributed to the Touhou society. Here’s the 21st chapter of Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia. If I come across lots of time, I’ll translate the rest of the untranslated chapters.

If anyone wants to put it up on Touhou Wiki before I get the chance to, please credit me and link back to my site :3 With that all said and done, I’m tired.

[Translated by Kafka Fuura; Original Story by ZUN]

What do the residents of Gensoukyou think of the brilliance raining down from far away…?

Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia

This time, awaiting the release of the new tankoubon “Touhou Guumonshiki ~Perfect Memento in a Strict Sense” (Isshinsha), this is a story where Marisa and Reimu view a meteor shower at Kourindou. To all the fans that can’t wait for the tankoubon as well, why don’t we all read this issue’s “Kourindou” and think about the puzzles of space?

Chapter 21: The Universe that the Youkai Saw

“Ah! Two just fell in a row!”

“Yeah, just one more to make ten.”

The excited voices of the two rang out inside the shop where the lights had been extinguished. Soon it’ll be midnight – It’s already time for crying children quiet down, but neither Reimu nor Marisa was.
The inside of the shop was occupied by those two and all of the lights were out. I, unable to read a book or write in my journal, moved over to where they were, relying on the little bit of moonlight coming in from the window.

“Really, I don’t know what to do with you two – haven’t you had enough? These so called “meteor showers” aren’t exactly rare you know…”

“What are you talking about? You said it yourself didn’t you? ‘Tonight the meteors will be amazing’, ‘I’m sure more than a hundred will fall.’

“I really do think about a hundred will fall… you don’t mean to watch all of them do you?”

“Well of course. I came prepared with over a hundred wishes.”

–At noon inside Kourindou.

The day when both Reimu and Marisa had the chance to appreciate the meteor shower.
I was had placed a newly acquired mysterious item on top of my desk and was staring at it. I say it was a newly acquired item, but the item itself was old and a bit dirty. The parts made of metal had spots of rust here and there as well.

That item was made up of a ball the size of a large watermelon and four foot supports. The ball was made of metal, but it had a very odd shape. There were a number of thin rings shaped from metal and connected together that looked like they were used for measurement; they formed a sphere that air could easily pass through, like a throwing ball made out of bamboo. Furthermore each of the metal rings could turn freely while the legs kept the whole thing in place.

Unfortunately a few of the metal rings were rusted, and didn’t turn very smoothly. Like this it wouldn’t make for proper merchandise, so I had thought I’d somehow try to fix it myself.

“What’s with this weird hole-y globe?”

“This isn’t a globe, Marisa. And – when did you come in?”

“I thought maybe a hole had opened up in the planet.”

Marisa asked if it wasn’t a globe then just what was it?

A globe is, just as the characters suggest, a model of earth. The humans living in Gensoukyou don’t know much about the planet they live on. If you must ask why, Gensoukyou is in the mountains of a small part of Japan, itself a small part of the world – plus, it’s not a place you can easily leave.

That said, it’s not like information or tools never get in. A globe is one of the various tools that have washed in from the outside world, and so we’ve been able to learn about the earth we live on. Speaking strictly “knowledge” we know it down to the finest detail, but for the human residents of Gensoukyou the land they live in isn’t quite connected with the knowledgeable world. For example if you were to say that a hole opened up in the earth, they would easily believe you.

Still, though this tool looks like a globe it is certainly not. It is a tool to measure objects like the earth, that though are always close to even Gensoukyou, we still don’t know much about.

“This is a tool called an ‘armillary sphere ’. If a globe is a tool used to provide information about the earth, an armillary sphere is used to provide information about space.”

While an armillary sphere is an unusually complicated tool, all it is used for is to measure the position of the stars.

However, there’s a reason for this complexity. Though it appears that the stars are just floating in the sky, correctly measuring their position is difficult. It’s not something you can measure absolutely, like how the ground you see from far away has mountains and forests giving varying degrees of height. In the night sky there are lines drawn like on graph paper, and there are many fundamental-like stars that don’t move and are simpler to calculate, but even those aren’t set in stone. Their positions are unreachable, and observing stars that exist apart from the fundamental model has long troubled many astronomers. In order to resolve that problem, the armillary sphere couldn’t have been made without being complicated.

“So how do you use this thing?”

“Well… that’s what I’m investigating now.”

“Ah, so you don’t know either? Well of course, that’s the way it always is.”

I felt I was being made fun of, but well what she said is true, so there’s no helping it.

“Well, this is how I imagine you’d use it. While looking at a star through this tube in the middle, you match up the turning ball with the star, and take a reading from the scale or something written here … Hmm?”

I just realized that there were strange letters written on this tool. What I thought was ‘a scale or something’ wasn’t a simple numbered system. There’s a possibility that these strange symbols broaden the usefulness of the armillary sphere.

“What? Is there something on that ring or something?”

“Hmm, there certainly is. I thought for sure that this tool was something from the outside world but… the characters written here could overturn that idea.

“Where, where? Can I see? Hmm… I can’t read it.”

“Well that was fast.”

The strange symbols written on the armillary sphere were the names of the constellations.

“Written here is… yuki-nyuudou constellation, kaenba constellation, bashou-no-sei constellation… At any rate they’re names of constellations.”

“What’s with those constellations? They’re all awfully maniacal constellations aren’t they?”

“It’s not that simple of a problem. I haven’t heard of those constellations either. Well it’s probably just that a number of constellations with extremely maniacal names were written together. Well that would be funny, but even if that was the case, these constellation names…”

“Te-no-me” constellation, “Tsurube-otoshi” constellation, “Great Tengu” constellation …

“Isn’t every single one of them the name of a Japanese youkai?”

The constellations we know ― well I don’t think this is limited to the humans of Gensoukyou; it’s probably the same for the humans from the outside ― mostly came from the continent. They were historical things that were used before Gensoukyou separated from the outside world.

Furthermore, though there are still some constellations originally from ancient Japan, there are few remaining now. The Japanese ones were simply stars themselves rather than the interconnecting lines between them, and were given names and worshipped – well at least that’s what I’ve always thought. After looking at this armillary sphere I’ll probably have to rethink my assessment. It’s hard to think that constellations with the names of Japanese youkai would have come over from the continent. If this many constellations named in Japan exist, it wouldn’t be strange to think that Japanese astronomy has advanced a lot…

“However… all of them are youkai names. If this was the work of Japanese astronomy they should have used more names of gods or heroes. If you think of it that way, rather than Japanese astronomy… Is it possible that this armillary sphere is not a tool of the outside world but –”

This is probably a youkai armillary sphere. Youkai have continued living for thousands of years, so it wouldn’t be strange if they had their own astronomical knowledge. There are many youkai that make fun of practices made by humans. With astronomy as well they must have created their own instead of using the astronomy of the humans. It’s possible even to think that astronomy used by humans is in fact a field of study thought up by youkai.

Additionally, it is said that over a thousand years in the past youkai travelled to the moon. At that time humans wouldn’t have yet known the meaning of the moon or stars. For that reason alone youkai astronomy must have been excellent.

Holding festivals on days when the moon is full and calming down when the new moon comes, for youkai, the moon is an important celestial body. It’s easy to imagine that youkai study of the moon has greatly advanced.
However, the youkai names of constellations on this armillary sphere suggest that not only is their study of the moon, but also the stars very extensive.

For example, the Milky Way is called the Oni’s River, and there the sake of oni flows above the ground. Close to the river the powerfully bright Orion’s belt is called by youkai the Ibuki-doujii constellation and indicates the Ibuki-douji’s three powers of harmony, finite, and infinite.

Because of planets’ brightness and inconsistent movement they are called tengu stars. They move here and there and can be read as an existence that disrupts the youkai rings.

Within the youkai constellations, comets are also defined. Even the circuit phases of the comets have been researched. Since youkai can live for a long time, you can say it’s easier for them to investigate it than humans. Comets are called detested or condemned stars because they are apparently bad omens that threaten youkai society.

The one written with the largest characters is the celestial dragon constellation. This is the so-called big dipper. The celestial dragon always stares at one point, and looks as if it might at anytime fly. The star at the point is Polaris, the north star.

In youkai constellations Polaris is the “unmoving star”. Basically, it is the face of the unmoving lord of night, the unmoving lord, an embodiment of Mahavairocana . Though it goes without saying, Mahavairocana is an avatar of the sun that renders youkai powers void. In the night world he is said to become Polaris and eat youkai power in order to prevent their festivals from getting out of hand. It is said that the celestial dragon is plotting to eat the unmoving lord to control the sky day and night. According to records, it is prophesized that after a few thousand years the celestial dragon will move, and then youkai society will also grow. Though it’s something to occur a thousand years later, youkai foresight is incomparable to humans’, so this may be troubling.

“Anyway, getting such a detailed explanation is a complete waste of time, but I have something I’d like to ask. I know that with this tool you can find the position of the stars and know the youkai constellations, but what about that? The ‘lead role of the night sky’…”

“The lead role of the night sky? Isn’t that the moon? So then you should be able to calculate the position of the moon as well.”

To youkai the moon is a very important celestial body, the leading role of the night sky would have to be the moon.

“No, It’s not the moon…”

“Is there some celestial body other than the moon worthy of the leading role?”

“Those, the stars that flow down disappearing in an instant, the stars that stand out the most.”

“In an instant… do you mean shooting stars?”

“Ah, that’s right. Out of all the stars shooting stars are the ones I like the best. They grant your wishes too.”

Ah, I see, shooting stars… liking flashy things is very like Marisa. But that is different, those aren’t celestial bodies.

“Shooting stars aren’t stars you know.”

“It’s a shooting star isn’t it? Isn’t it a star?”

“Shooting stars are… scales from the celestial dragon who flies through the heavens, that sparkle when they fall off. So this tool can’t find their position.”

“Hmm, well it’s because they move. I thought it wouldn’t be able to measure it, but still that’s too bad.”

“Why is it ‘too bad’?”

“If you could know what time they fell you could have as many wishes granted as you wanted. If you have enough free time to study other stars you should study shooting stars instead.”

“It’s not like they were studying them because they had free time… Well certainly you can’t tell when shooting stars will fall. However, I know a way to certainly see some.”

“What did you say? Is that true? If so, tell me!”

“A few times a year on certain days a large amount of shooting stars pour from the sky, if you look then, during a single day you can probably see ten… no a hundred shooting stars.”

––So, I told Marisa one of the days that you can see a meteor shower, and immediately on that day Marisa brought along Reimu and we had a sort of meteor shower viewing party.

I wonder how much time has passed. The two counted the fifteenth shooting star.

“This is amazing! It really looks like about a hundred will fall!”

“I’m starting to feel a bit tired.”
After saying Reimu shouldn’t be, Marisa went further outside the window to take in the astronomical show.

“Ah, the sixteenth one. Um, curse-curse-curse,” Reimu whispered.

“What’s with that?”

“Saying a wish three times before a shooting star hits the ground is pretty impossible isn’t it? So I tried shortening my wish as much as possible.”

“You shortened it too much. By the way, what sort of wish was that?”

“A wish related to curses. What are you wishing for?”

“Ah, ‘I want to use stronger magic’.”

Both of them were excited about seeing a hundred shooting stars, but as the time between them continued to get a little longer, they ended up losing count, got tired and fell asleep. The curtain had closed on the first shooting star wishing party.

––Present day, four or five years later.

I stared at the memorable armillary sphere. From then on the shooting star wishing party became a yearly tradition, and we’ve already had quite a few of them.

When I think about it, I get the feeling that ever since the first shooting star wishing party Marisa started to use star-like magic. Now when it comes to magic shooting stars, it’s Marisa’s number one specialty. Plus, every year she comes asking for the dates of the meteor showers and I hear she’ll watch them by herself.

I wonder if Marisa was enchanted by the celestial dragon, and I wonder if her wishes were granted.

The polar opposite of the static movements of the stars, big, strong, bright, and immediately disappearing. Every now and then they’ll become “meteorites” that reach the earth, and hold a power capable of dealing incredible damage. I wonder what people see in that kind of shooting stars.

“Oh, the youkai armillary sphere? That sure brings back memories. So you still had it all this time?”

“Yeah, I took it out for the first time in a while and was looking at it. … When did you come in?”

“You were just daydreaming and didn’t notice me.”

“I was just reminiscing a bit about the past…. Huh!?”

“What is it?”

I just read the name of a youkai constellation written on the armillary sphere. There are various youkai written down, but I found one that particularly caught my attention. Well it wasn’t the name of a constellation, but it stood out the most.

“……Never mind, it’s nothing.”

“It looked like it was.”

And it was. The “saying” about youkai going to the moon over a thousand years ago isn’t really a saying, I heard it from the mouth of one of the youkai herself. In other words that youkai is still living in Gensoukyou. Still in Gensoukyou and still controlling things from behind the scenes.

On this armillary sphere that youkai’s name was written. Furthermore it was written as the creator’s name.

“Let me see, let me see. Oh if it’s those characters I should be able to read it. ‘Author, Yakumo……Yukari’? Really? Was this armillary sphere a tool that she made?

Marisa was clearly annoyed, and strangely I knew why. The reason is that the place where those characters were written was in a place where a constellation name should be. Furthermore it wasn’t “maker” but “author”.

“So that’s it. So this is something made by that troublesome youkai. That’s pretty boring.”

“At any rate she’s smart and has a lot of knowledge. If you were honest about it you probably would do well to learn from her.”

“I don’t feel like it. Anyway if you’re talking about her that way because she made this, you can’t say that she’s really that smart.”

“Your humility and guesswork isn’t enough is it?”

This doesn’t mean that Yakumo Yukari is the youkai that made this armillary sphere. Most likely the she’s the author of the constellations written on the armillary sphere. In other words, I think she’s the one that made the constellations.

Gensoukyou, a place where these sorts of characters still bustle around. Until now I’ve looked down on the power youkai have to live very long lives, but now when I think of it that way, I feel a chill.

An armillary sphere is a spherical sort of astrolabe.
Most of the other funny named things are youkai. The really strangely named thing is a Buddhist deity. If you want more full notes, pdf or docx links below :)

Side by Side Japanese|English for those who want it:
Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia – Chapter 21 “The Universe that the Youkai Saw” (docx)
Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia – Chapter 21 “The Universe that the Youkai Saw” (pdf)

Scans of Original Text:
Pages: [1],[2],[3],[4]


Ladies and Gentlemen!!

“Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen!!”

I burst into the castle with a smile,
Skewer the guardians,
And kiss the King.

Not a single particle out of place or miscalculated,
Whatever I wish for just happens.

So I’ve finished a preliminary translation of Gungnir, something I really should have done ages ago; If by any chance you have the book but haven’t been able to read it – now you can!! Yeah, well, given how hard it was for ME to get my hands on it, and I had been trying to get it before it was released, I consider the chances of that to be quite minimal.

For everyone else, I’m in the process of scanning it, but well… there’s some problems with that. Every page of Gungnir is on glossy paper. When you scan it, you can see in between the dots of ink, even on “black” pages. Plus you’ve got flares of light from the scan light, and since I don’t scan things all that often my scanner’s only mid-professional grade… and by all things holy I’m not destroying my book so I can get it to scan a little better. Not on your life D:<

Rant done. Now, because the translations ridiculously long, and I don't want it to fill my entire front page, I made rare use of the [more] tag. If you want to read along, visit the post.

I got kind of lazy on the author's note; I'll translate it later. D:

Uh, and if you're a fan of Simadoriru, buy his stuff like me :) / Personally when I'm rich, I'd love to buy one of his canvas paintings….

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