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Hanako san – Japanese Legend Who Haunts School Bathrooms

Hanako san, or Toire no Hanako-san who haunts school bathrooms is a Japanese urban legend. This legend is about the spirit of a young girl named Hanako-san. A Japanese urban legend is a story in Japanese folklore.

The schools contain an infernal secret in Japan. You may find it if you go into the girl student’s bathroom on the third floor of the school building, and walk to the third stall.

To find it, you have to knock on the door three times and call the girl’s name. And when you open the door of the stall, you will find a little girl, with the bob haircut, in a red skirt or dress. This girl is no one, she is Hanako san. She might want to play with a friend. Or she perhaps wants to drag you to hell — through the toilet. She may have a bloody hand and grab you, or she will turn into a lizard that devours you. And it depends on which place you live in Japan.

It is not just a made-up story, it is the legend of Japanese urban.          

Hanako san: The legend and its variations

There is another girl who haunts Japan’s bathrooms named Kashima Reiko. It was said that Kashima was cut in half by a train. Now her disfigured spirit inhabits bathrooms and asks children at the stalls that where her legs are. The myth is that if Kashima Reiko is not satisfied with their answer, she will rip their legs off.

To summon Hanako san, it is often said that individuals must enter a girls’ toilet — usually on the third floor of a school. You have to knock three times on the third stall and ask if the girl is present. If she is there, she will reply with some variation of “Yes, I am”.  The person may then witness the appearance of a bloody or ghostly hand. The girl’s hand may pull the child into the toilet, which may lead to hell. Also, the individual may be eaten by a three-headed lizard. If you are interested in reading on another legend Hookman, you can follow our Entertainment category


Matthew Meyer, an author, and folklorist has described Hanako-san legend as dating back to the 1950s. Michael Dylan Foster, author of The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore, has stated that the girl “is well known because it is an ‘urban legend’ associated with schools all over Japan. Additionally, it has been used in movies and became a part of popular culture since the 1990s. NPR in an article in 2014 described the legend as having “become a fixture of Japanese urban folklore over the last 70 years”

In popular culture

The Hanako san character has appeared in films, manga, anime, and video games. This character first made her appearance in the 1995 film Toire no Hanako-san. The film was directed by Joji Matsuoka, in which the girl is depicted as the benevolent spirit of a girl who committed suicide, and who haunts the toilet of a school.

She was later illustrated in the 1998 film Shinsei Toire no Hanako san, which is directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi. In the film, the girl is portrayed as a vengeful ghost who haunts the middle school, where she attended before she died. Another film — Toire no Hanako-san: Shin Gekijōban, directed by Masafumi Yamada. Was made in 2013.

In addition, the Japanese girl appears in the manga series Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, written and illustrated by Sakae Esuno. She has also been depicted in the manga series Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun by Iro Aida in 2014. The character is represented as a young boy in the movie. An anime television series adaptation of Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun produced by Lerche premiered in early 2020. Other anime series which feature her character include Kyōkai no Rinne, GeGeGe no Kitarō, and Ghost Stories. The girl also appears in the anime and video game franchise Yo-kai Watch. The legend – Hanako san — was also incorporated in 2020 into the short story – Who’s at the door?

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