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Japan Life!
The Urban Legend of Hanako-san (Toire no hanako san)
The Urban Legend of Hanako-san (Toire no hanako san)
Hanako-San is Creepy, What's the Story?

Japan is home of countless superstitions of the paranormal and given such rich diversity in these beliefs, there are superstitions surrounding toilet and bathroom hauntings. While there are many of said stories, this particular urban legend is about Hanako-san or sometimes known as Hanako-chan whom haunts female restrooms in schools in this legend called Toire no Hanako-san (トイレのはなこさん).

The Legend
This legend has many variations but we will begin with the most popular tale that seemed to have the most claimed accounts for. This story begins when Hanako-san, an elementary school girl was playing hide-and-seek when she was killed by a bombing raid in World-War-II. It is said that she was hiding in the first stall closest to the entrance of the female restroom on the third floor when this happened. Many have claimed that this very stall opens and closes on its own but in truth what it may really be is Hanako-san’s attempt at luring school girls.

The Elementary School's Washroom

Let’s begin by examining an elementary school's washroom, it is notorious for its poor lighting and as a result, children often refuse to use the washroom even in dire emergencies in fear of Hanako-san or other entities that may exist.

It is said between the hours of one and three in the morning in the girl’s washroom, if you knock three-times on the first stall closest to the entrance on the third floor of the elementary school and ask if Hanako-san is there (or is done yet), and repeat this to the next stalls; you may hear a response of what seems like an innocent, sometimes scared school-girl.

She calls out to you I’m here or I’m done and the stall door opens just a crack.



Personal Accounts with Hanako-san
There are stories where people have opened the stall to see this girl only to be confronted by a three-headed lizard ready to devour them. As frightening as this may be an even more frightful legend exists even more widespread as a belief. It is thought to be as an absolute truth to most children as what you really encounter is the sight of a young innocent school girl with bobbed hair, a burn scar on her face wearing most noticeably a red skirt or dress.

Some say that she is harmless, while others claim to have witnessed first-hand the evil nature behind Hanako-san as she pulls her victim into the toilet, never to be seen again.



Alas, we must consider some other accounts and popular beliefs to this legend. In some schools or prefectures some students have claimed to have seen other paranormal activities at the presence of Hanako-san, such as the flickering of the light, opening and closing of bathroom stalls, and blood flowing from the faucets. In some schools or prefectures, it is believed that Hanako-san may be found in the third stall or in the fourth stall as the number four (shi 死) in Japanese can also mean death.

Different Beliefs
The Yamagata Prefecture holds a strong legend over this tale and should Hanako-san speak to you in a frightening voice, you are to die at the claws of a three-headed lizard. Different prefectures believe in slightly different variations on what comes out of the toilet, such as a head, bloody hand, or a large white hand.

While these legends slightly differ from school to school, prefecture to prefecture, one thing is known among students… Do not bother Hanako-san or you might not live.

What if You Encounter Hanako-san?
What happens if you are unfortunate enough to encounter the legendary haunting of Hanako-san? According to legends, the only way to defeat it is to present perfect grades to it and only then can your life be spared. However one should heed warning, while some believe it can be any perfect grade, it is said that the only method to defeat her is to present perfect grades of an exam.

However, it's also said that it’s impossible to defeat it and once you’re lured in, there’s no turning back. There are also rumors that Hanako-san sometimes plays in the school yard or if you scrape your knee in the school-yard, you might get cursed with a fungal infection that grows mushrooms throughout your leg and body. Some teachers also expand on this by telling their students if they play outside without permission, Hanako-san will curse them with mushrooms.

Hanako-san's Death
There are variations between how Hanako-san died, it is most popularly believed that she died from a bomb in World-War-II, but some believe that she was an abused victim driven to suicide, or was murdered at school. In some prefectures, Hanako-san is believed to have died from an unfortunate accident such as falling out of a library window.

The Name
Her name originates from the early 50’s when Hanako was a popular female name which was about when the rumors began. Since then, school children were often forced into the attempt of summoning Hanako-san either for bullying or by means of initiation, while others have tried to summon Hanako-san for pure entertainment.



Pop Culture and Films
Rumors and legends did not just stay in classrooms as these stories have been adapted into various Japanese films such as Hanako (1995), Shinsei toire no hanako-san (1998), Hanako of the toilet (2013), and Hanako and the Terror of Allegory (Manga).

With so many legends, personal accounts, and films, could the urban legends be true? After all, Toire no Hanako-san is one of the most popular elementary school superstitions in Japan, and perhaps, just perhaps there’s some truth to it? There’s only one way to find out if you dare.

An important notice regarding this article
This article was written as an information piece with a slight mood alteration to the presentation in order to fit the theme. All content found on this page was reviewed by peers of Japanese heritage with personal knowledge and/or “experiences”. Because of the superstitious nature of this editorial, the stories and accounts presented should only be considered as stories and not actual paranormal accounts, or so we think?
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