Ghost stories are told to pretence a truth, offer a warning, give an explanation to life, teach a moral or just entertain. In Japan, there is a ghost stories for every occasion in life, even going to the bathroom. Yes, the restroom has its share of ghouls, spirits, demons and other monsters lurking around the toilet. In my next installment of Japanese ghostly tales, I would like to introduce the Aka Manto.
The Aka Manto is a vengeful spirit that haunts public toilets, described wearing a red cape and a golden mask. There are many variations to the story, but the most common one starts with a handsome Japanese man killed in a restroom stall. Now there is no explanation as to how or why he was murdered, but to die on the toilet is humiliating and his spirit returns seeking revenge.
An encounter with Aka Manto begins with going to a public bathroom to do one’s business. Outside the stall, you hear a disembodied voice asking if you want red or blue toilet paper. Realizing there is no toilet paper in the stall, you will need some. If the response is red, the Aka Manto appeasrs in front of you to either rip the skin off, decapitate or tear you into pieces as your own blood turns everything red. If the choice is blue, the ghost appears, grabs you by the neck and chokes you until you’re blue in the face. In other versions of the story, the question is to a pick red or blue article of clothing, such as a vest or cape.
In most of the Japanese lore, there are ways mentioned on how to escape encounters with ghosts or demons. Unfortunately with the Aka Manto, there are very few options on evading this spirit once it appears. If you try to trick it by not answering the question or choosing another color, it will grab and pull you down to hell through the toilet. If you try to run away, the ghost will catch you and wait for an answer. There are a few stories that say if you answer yellow the Aka Manto dunks your face into the toilet bowel. Gross, but you get to live.
The origins of the Aka Manto legend is unknown. There has been reports of a man dress in a red cape going far back as the 1930s, said to be a stalker, vampire or a ghost. In researching the internet, stories mention Aka Manto haunted toilets in public restroom seem to start in the 1980s. The ghost is popular in horror movies, games and manga.
Yokaigrove. “The Rep Cape (Aka Manto)”. The Yokai Grove. September 12, 2014. http://yokaigrove.wordpress.com/