One element I always enjoyed in researching about the paranormal was reading legends from ancient times to urban myths. I covered a vast amount over the years, skimming through tales of vampires, bizarre deaths, haunted houses along with the outlandish such as cursed underwear. However, when I believe there could be nothing more disturbing out there to learn, urban legends involving bathrooms comes around. Not even the toilet is spared from stories where one could encounter demons, ghosts, portals and even death. In this second installment of supernatural entities to beware of when going to the bathroom here is the Japanese urban tales of Toire no Hanako-san.
Hanako-san is a creepy, young girl which haunts the bathrooms throughout Japan and a popular ghost story told in the country. The urban legend holds this spirit inhabits the third stall in the girls’ bathroom at a school, office building, restaurant or park. Depending on which story you go back, conjuring Hanako-san could be a frightening or even fatal experience.
There are variations in her physical description along with her age, often said to appear between 6 to 11 years old. The common features legends share are Hanako-son has bobbed hair and wears a red skirt or dress. This ghost haunts the stall waiting for someone to summon or provoke her to appear in what many perform a test of courage. As the ritual goes, to conjure the spirit requires knocking on the door or calling out her name three times follow by asking, “Are you there, Hanako-son?” If successful, one would hear a faint voice response, “Yes I am here.” The true test of bravery lies in opening the stall door.
Once the door is open, some stories mention a little girl in a red shirt would appear resulting in people fleeing away in fear. In others, Hanako-san will pull them into the toilet to drown or be dragged off to hell with her. One darker tale warns anyone to enter the stall would be devoured by a three head lizard. Despite the difference in legends, an encounter with Hanako-san would not be a pleasant one.
Hanako-san became a national phenomenon back in the 1980s, yet the origins of this urban legend remains unknown. Tales of this ghost had been told since the early 1950s with many speculations the restless spirit to be a student who perished in some horrific event while in the bathroom. Anyone believing Hanako-san to be frightening, there are still many other untold terrors lurking within the restrooms of Japan.