Hanako San – Japanese Legend Who Haunts School Bathrooms

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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 a 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, in Japan.

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


Since Hanako-san is an urban legend, there are many stories about how she became a youkai. Hanako-San is said to be the ghost of a girl who was killed while playing hide-and-seek during an air raid during World War II, a victim of a plane crash, the soul of a person who killed themselves, or a victim of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. 

No matter where the story came from, most agree that she died in the third bathroom stall and that her ghost now lives there. Hanako-san can only be called by going into a girl’s bathroom, knocking three times, and asking if she is there. Depending on the story, the summoner could be taken to Hell by an ethereal hand or by Hanako-san herself, or they could be eaten by a three-headed lizard.

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 about another legend Hookman, you can follow our Entertainment category


Matthew Meyer, an author, and folklorist has described the Hanako-san legend as dating back to the 1950s. Michael Dylan Foster, an 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?

Hanako San’s Death

There are various theories as to how Hanako-san died. It is widely assumed that she was killed by a bomb during World War II, but some believe she was an abused victim driven to suicide or was murdered at school. Hanako-san is thought to have died in an unfortunate accident, such as falling out of a library window, in some prefectures.

Pop Culture and Films

Rumors and legends did not stay in classrooms, as they were adapted into a number of Japanese films, including Hanako (1995), Shinsei toire no Hanako-san (1998), Hanako of the Toilet (2013), and Hanako and the Terror of Allegory (2015). (Manga).

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

The Elementary School’s Washroom

Let’s start by looking at a bathroom in an elementary school. It’s known for having bad lighting, so kids often won’t use it, even if they have to, out of fear of Hanako-san or other things that might be there.

It is said that between 1 and 3 a.m., if you go to the girls’ bathroom on the third floor of the elementary school and knock three times on the first stall closest to the entrance and ask if Hanako-san is there (or if she’s done yet), and then repeat this in the next stalls, you may hear what sounds like an innocent, sometimes scared schoolgirl answer.

She tells you, “I’m here” or “I’m done,” and the door to the stall opens just a little bit.

What if You Encounter Hanako-San?

What happens if you meet the ghost of Hanako-san, who is said to haunt the area? Legends say that the only way to defeat it and save your life is to give it a perfect report card. But be careful! Some people think it can be any perfect grade, but it is said that the only way to beat her is to get perfect grades on an exam.

But it’s also said that it’s impossible to beat and that once you’re in, you can’t get out. There are also rumors that Hanako-san sometimes plays in the schoolyard or that if you scrape your knee in the schoolyard, you might get a fungal infection that makes mushrooms grow all over your leg and body. Some teachers add to this by telling their students that Hanako-san will curse them with mushrooms if they play outside without permission.

Mythology and Lore

Hanako-san is a more versatile spirit than most, appearing in Japanese urban legends and folklore only when summoned, much like Bloody Mary. Each reported case has different details about the haunting and encounter, but there are some common themes. In one version, she is a schoolgirl who was killed during an air raid while playing hide-and-seek during WWII; in another, she was starving but agreed to play the game anyway, but her body succumbed to hunger and died in the bathroom stall.

In other stories, she either committed suicide or was hiding from an abusive parent, who found her in the bathroom and murdered her. According to some accounts, she came to the school to play when it wasn’t in session, was followed by a pedophile, and was then assaulted and killed. Depending on the version of the story, she may appear as a ghostly, bloody hand or as Hanako-san herself. Some scenarios provide additional information about where her grave can be found, implying that she was either buried in a garbage dump in Saitama or behind a school gym in Tokyo.

The typical ritual in Japanese schools across the country is to enter the girl’s bathroom (usually on the third floor) and knock three times on each door. After knocking, you would ask, “Is Hanako there?” from the nearest door to the farthest door. After three repetitions of this question, the answer “yes” will come from the third stall in a small, soft voice. Hanako will be waiting for you when you open the stall door, ready to drag you into the toilet.

While it may appear to be an unusual trend, there are many ykai and yrei that live in bathrooms and toilets. Most Japanese people will tell you that they attempted to summon Hanako-san when they were in elementary school.

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