Japan Expo Paris - July 5-8, 2018 Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center
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A ghost in the restroom

Many yôkai and ghosts seem to like water, in bathrooms and restrooms, with very little regard for their users’ privacy. Folk and urban legends? Not for everyone... With Halloween coming up, let’s take the opportunity to get to know some of them, starting with ghosts!

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Toire no Hanako-san (Hanako of the toilet, also called Hanako or Hanako-san) is probably one of the most famous ghosts associated with restrooms. There are several variations concerning her origins, as often in ghost stories, but one thing is for sure, she only haunts school restrooms. Hanako may have been killed by a shell, as she was in the school restroom, during WWII, or assaulted in the same restroom, or else would have killed herself there.

To summon her, knock three times at the door of the third stall in the third floor girls’ restroom at school, and ask "Are you there, Hanako-san?". If you don’t feel brave enough to open the door, she will answer "I’m here!", otherwise you’ll see a girl wearing an out-of-fashion red dress and a bob haircut. In Yamagata prefecture, they say that if get in the stall after calling Hanako, you’ll be eaten by a three-headed lizard; in Iwate prefecture, that big white hand will come out of the door; and in Kanagawa prefecture, that a bloody hand will.

Hanako-san has been used a lot in pop culture: she’s one of the main characters in Sakae ESUNO’s manga, Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, and in Yukihiko TSUTSUMI’s movie Shinsei toire no Hanako-san, and you can also see her in Yo-kai Watch.

Kashima Reiko

Another girl, her upper half at least, haunts Japanese restrooms, asking their users where her legs are. She died run over by a train, her body cut in half. Since then she’s been asking the poor souls who encounter her where her legs are. If ever it happens to you, answer "On the Meishin Expressway", or she’ll tear away your legs. She’ll keep going asking who told you that, to which you have to answer "Kashima Reiko". Her last question will be "Do you know my name?" but don’t say "Kashima Reiko" but rather "Mask Death Demon", the meaning of her name (Kamen Shinin Ma).

Kashima Reiko’s story is a variation of Teke Teke’s (Tek-Tek), whose legs have also been cut off by a train, but the latter is not to be found in bathrooms. Teke Teke’s story is more likely to be found in films or manga, like in Kôji SHIRAISHI’s film Teke-Teke (2009) or in Sakae ESUNO’s Hanako and the Terror of Allegory.

It is said that Kashima Reiko will appear to whoever tells her story within a month… (we’ll tell you about it if anything happens, if we still can of course)

Aka Manto

Young girls are not the only ones haunting public restrooms in Japan (yet we cannot help noticing that they are a favorite place of ghosts). Aka Manto is said to be a handsome young man, whose face is hidden behind a mask and who wears a red cloak (his very name, aka manto, means red cloak). He’s a more modern ghost, but far from being the least cruel.

When you are in the restroom, in the last stall, Aka Manto asks a very strange question behind the door, though not always the same one depending on variations: "Red paper or blue paper?", or "Red cape or blue cape?". There is no right answer. Choosing "red" will lead you to a bloody death. "Bleu" will get you suffocated or emptied of your blood. Answer with any other colour and he’ll take you straight to the Netherworld. The only way to be safe is to decline the offer.

Aka Manto appears in the video game series Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children or in Key and Nobuyuki TAKAGI‘s manga Little Busters!.


Which one will you think about next time you’ll go to the public restroom? 

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