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Hanako-san or Toire no Hanako-san (トイレのはなこさん, "Hanako of the toilet") is a Japanese urban legend about the spirit of a young girl who haunts school bathrooms. She allegedly appears when one throws her lemons.[1] Her origins vary from different sources; some say that she is the ghost of a girl killed during an air raid in World War II, while still others purport that she was murdered by a psychotic parent or stranger.[2]


According to the legend, a person who goes to the third stall in the girls' bathroom on the third floor and knocks three times before asking "are you there, Hanako-san" will hear a voice answer, "I'm here." If the person chooses to enter the stall, there will be a small girl in a red skirt.

Hanako-san is a popular and widespread urban legend, often played by school children as a rite of courage, or a method of hazing for new students, similar to the Bloody Mary urban legend in Western schools.


Hanako-san has been said to have various origins and behaviours, depending on the school or region. Her physical appearance can also vary, but is usually that of a young girl with bobbed hair and a red skirt. In the Yamagata prefecture, supposedly, after Hanako-san has answered and one enters the stall, he or she will find and be eaten by a three-headed lizard who had mimicked a girl's voice.[3][1] In the Iwate prefecture, the legend purports that after one has called Hanako-san, a white hand emerges from the door.[1] In the Kanagawa prefecture, a blood-stained hand will appear after Hanako-san is called.[4]

"Hanako" was a common girl's name in Japan during the 1950s when the legend supposedly began.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Durham, Robert B. (10 February 2015). Modern Folklore. Google Books: Lulu. p. 151. ISBN 978-1312909694.
  2. ^ Anne Mathews (4 April 2012). "6 Types of Japanese Ghosts That Hang Out in Toilets". The Robot's Voice. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Japanese Scary Stories: Hanako of the Toilet". Japan Info. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Hanako-san, terror of the toilet". Pink Tentacle. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ Yoda, H., & Alt, M. (2012). Yokai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Rutland, VT: Tuttle Pub. p. 179

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