Toire no Hanako-san: A Small Girl Haunting Schools
In Japan, Toire no Hanako-san (meaning “Hanako of the Toilet”) is a little girl dressed in a red skirt who has bobbed hair and inhabits the third stall on the third floor of elementary school toilets. Those who want to summon Hanako must knock three times on the stall door and ask whether or not she is in there.
Generally, Hanako is considered to be a harmless spirit, but there are some violent and frightening versions of the legend. In one interpretation, she can drag the individual into the toilet if the door is opened upon her response. She can apparently be stopped if the individual presents a perfect score on an exam. Another frightening version of the legend speaks of a giant lizard with three heads using the voice of a little girl to attract its prey.
Hanako of the Toilet. (Image Source)
Kawaya no Kami: An Excrement Toilet God of Protection
Japanese mythology also speaks about Kawaya no Kami, the toilet god who was born from the excrement of the goddess Izanami. As early toilets were darker and more dangerous than present ones, Kawaya no Kami was said to provide protection to those using them.
In respect for the god, people would keep their toilets clean, decorated them as a shrine, and even dined there in order to symbolize eating the food which the god had left. When people were not respectful enough of the toilet deity, their children were said to be born ugly and unhappy. Also, before using the toilet, people had to make their presence known by coughing because Kawaya no Kami was said to have the form of a blind man hiding at the bottom of the toilet clutching a spear.
Popular in Japan and Korea, Aka-Manto is an evil spirit of the toilet. This spirit is said to appear wearing a white mask and a red cloak. Females are thought to find him very attractive. The spirit hides in the stall and once the person enters he asks if the person would like a red cloak or a blue cloak.
By answering red, the person’s neck would be sliced by the spirit, so that the blood may flow resembling a red cloak. By answering blue, the individual will be choked to death, so that his or her face would turn blue. If the person tries to trick the spirit by saying another color, he or she will apparently get dragged to Hell through the toilet. The only way to escape death caused by the evil spirit is by answering “yellow”. This will result in the spirit shoving the person’s face into the toilet full of waste instead.
Representation of the spirit of Aka-Manto. (YouTube Screenshot)
Mask Death Demon: Kashima Reiko
Another evil spirit from Japan who hides in restrooms is Kashima Reiko. Having turned into a malevolent ghost after suffering a tragic death, she hides in school and household bathrooms searching for her legs. When she appears to ask where her legs are, the individual must answer “On the Meishin Expressway”. The spirit will then ask who gave the individual that information, and he or she must answer: “Kashima Reiko told me”. But she also has a trick question in store. When she asks what her name is, she must be told that her name is “Mask Death Demon”.
Kashima Reiko. (Image Source)
Akaname: Keeping Toilets Clean
The demon Akaname has a terrifying appearance and poisonous saliva. However, as he is attracted to untidiness, his purpose is to lick up filth thus leaving the toilets clean. He is the least dangerous of all the toilet gods and demons and he is said to have originated as a scare tactic for children to keep toilets clean.
An akaname as depicted in the first volume of Toriyama Sekien’s 18th century Gazu Hyakki Yakō. (Public Domain)
Belphegor: Invoking the Lazy
In Christian mythology, the demon Belphegor is depicted as a horned bearded demon with sharp nails and a mouth that is always open, that sits on a toilet throne. Rabbis believed that this demon could only be invoked while sitting on the toilet or by offering one’s own excrement to it. This demonic entity is believed to be lazy – sitting all day on the toilet eating human excrement.
Belphegor illustration from the Dictionnaire Infernal. (Public Domain)
Silence for the Sulak
The Babylonian demon Sulak was also said to hide in the toilet. Because the person was alone in the restroom, he or she was vulnerable and this offered the demon the perfect occasion to attack. In this way, disease was believed to be “the hand of Sulak”. If those who used the toilet were not modest and silent, the demon would supposedly feel offended and he would strike.
More Toilet Demons
In Chinese mythology, Zi-Gu is the toilet goddess. While being properly worshipped, she will make sure that the toilet remains clean and disinfected. In Ancient Rome, Cloacina was the sewer goddess, Stercutius was the god of dung, and Crepitus was summoned when someone was constipated or had diarrhea.
Top image: Terror of the toilet. (Image Source)
By Valda Roric
Valda Roric – “From History to Mystery”
Michael Ashkenazi – “Handbook of Japanese Mythology”
Michæl Dylan Foster and Shinonome Kijin – “The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore”