Toire no Hanako: Hanako in the Toilet

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In Japan, there is a rumor concerning toilets. At any elementary, go to the third floor, and then the third stall on the left. A little girl’s ghost lives there. If you knock three times, she might even show herself to you.

The history of this ghost is bizarre, but most sources agree that she is a new phenomenon–a ghost out of the post-World War II era: Hanako in the red skirt. Hanako in the toilet.

Toire no Hanako (by Digital Dolls)
Toire no Hanako (by Digital Dolls)

Hanako is a bizarre little ghost, but her varied origins are sad. The most well-known story of how Hanako came to be in the toilet is that she was bullied by the other girls in her school, and actually died in the stall, haunting it to take revenge on mean girls now. Another claims she died during an air raid. Yet another says that she died following an attack from a pervert in the stall.

However, despite this assorted and horrific history, she is relatively harmless as far as Japanese ghosts go. Unlike most of the otherย yurei I’ve covered in this series, Hanako actually gives her callers ample opportunities to get away. Now, if they’re foolish enough to keep on pressing…. well, she has a reputation to uphold.

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Hanako is much like the Bloody Mary of U.S. urban legends: she must be called upon to appear. Once a child knocks three times, they must ask a simple question:ย Hanako, are you there? If she answers you in a soft voice, you can open the door and she will appear for you. If she answers in an angry voice, you can open the door, but it’s probably a better idea not to–she has a tendency to drag people into the toilet with her.

Still, all is not lost. A surefire way to assure Hanako that you aren’t, in fact, a terrible bully is to flash her a perfectly marked exam when you open the door. She will vanish into thin air and leave you alone!

Sorta reminds you a bit of Moaning Myrtle, doesn’t she? I have to wonder if maybe J.K. Rowling found her inspiration for this amusing character in books on Japanese monsters.

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6 Comments

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    1. Yeah, not too creepy. ๐Ÿ™‚ but given that this is a ghost story passed around my grade school kids (K-5th), that’s not too surprising.

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  1. Wow, Moaning Myrtle was the first thing that came to my mind. I’m betting this monster was the inspiration. Her backstory is creepy, but why the exam? It seems like she was ashamed of her own bad marks and that’s why she hides in the stall.

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    1. Yeah, I was thinking of Myrtle, too! I almost wanted to pose the question to Rowling herself on Twitter, haha. Not that bold or brave, though. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think exam is part of just proving to her that you’re not a mean girl/boy, because good people don’t make bad grades, by Japanese idealistic logic. ๐Ÿ˜›

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