News Ticker


Japanese Urban Legend: Hanako-san

Does anybody have a favourite Japanese urban legend? I have a couple that I'm still mesmerised by till this day. Incidentally, urban legends complement the horror genre beautifully. Those spine-chilling stories have repeatedly stood the test of time, with modern adaptations in line to scare the younger generation. Hence, it isn't surprising to see a whole bunch of horror films and such being set in schools. Today, I would like to share the first Japanese urban legend which first gave me the shivers when I was in lower secondary (which is equivalent to middle school or junior high).

'Toire no Hanako-san', or simply Hanako-san in short. 'Toire' means toilet in Japanese. The story begins with a rumour concerning a little girl named Hanako who resides inside one of the cubicles in the girls' room. There are several variations as to how the story progresses. One classic saying is that Hanako hides inside the third stall of the toilet, and any girl who knocks three times on the door with the question: "Are you there, Hanako-san?" will get a reply. The girl then decides whether to enter the cubicle or not. Hanako takes the form of a small girl wearing a red skirt over a white blouse. What happens at the end is largely open to interpretation. A version from the game 'Misao' portrays Hanako as a sweet little girl who simply appears from the last stall of the toilet with a bang, startling the player who heads forward to check things out. In a quick flash, Hanako changes her expression to that of a crazed murderer and finishes off the player. Eek.

The origins of Hanako also vary drastically from place to place. Some stories have described Hanako as an unfortunate victim of abuse by her father and that she had suffered a severe head injury as a result. Later, she sported a bobbed hairstyle in order to hide her injury. In Fukushima Prefecture, Hanako died from falling off a window of the library. The whereabouts of Hanako have also stretched past the toilet with tombstones behind a school gymnasium in Tokyo and a dumpster in Saitama Prefecture.  

In Yamagata Prefecture, Hanako even existed as a giant three-headed lizard that had the ability to imitate a little girl's voice. Now, imagine being attacked by that! Naturally, I would try all means to break free from the monster. Nope, not a gush of hurricane or anything like that. In true Dead Rising fashion, I would improvise a weapon using...let's see, a plunger, a liquid soap dispenser, a water hose, a can of air freshener...never mind. I could just snap off the heads with my bare hands. Oh, that reminds me...these days Hanako stops over (?) at the Gents as well. Then again, if there was a little girl in the men's room in the first place, I would right away stick a couple of ofuda onto the door and chant the mantra.

Official records have stated three film adaptations of Hanako, with the recent one being released just last year. However, I'm only vaguely familiar with the 1998 version titled 'Shinsei Toire no Hanako-san' starring Maeda Ai and Nagano Hiroshi (of V6 fame). Yeah, while I remember seeing a little doll (?) turn into a hideous monster, I no longer have any memories of what happened before or after that. Nope, the V6 idol played a teacher. Anyway, I'm in awe of the popularity of Hanako online. There are tons of various illustrations done by extremely talented artists. Some have freaked me out a little as well. 

It is rather amazing how something mundane (?) like the toilet is often the butt of numerous horror stories. I wonder if Hanako would pass out in the event of a thunderous fart.

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

Share This:

Post Tags:

1 comment to ''Japanese Urban Legend: Hanako-san"

  1. Oh dang it.. That gif made me shiver for a a moment...
    Sorry to say this, I never actually read the article, maybe some other time.. xD