Red Hanten 半纏

*A hanten is a traditional Japanese short winter coat.

“One day a middle school girl went to use the toilet. When she was ready to wipe, she heard an old woman say ‘Shall I dress you in a red hanten?’ She became frightened and asked a teacher about the voice. The teacher used the toilet and heard the same voice. She was also frightened, so she called the police.

A female police officer went into the bathroom alone. From the doorway the others heard her tell the toilet, “Dress me in it, if you can!” Next they heard the woman scream. The other police officers ran in to find her fallen to the ground and covered in blood from a knife wound through her chest.”

Most people interpret the hanten in the story to refer to her now reddened jacket. A less common interpretation uses the pun “hanten” 斑点, meaning spot or speckle. Some people believe the “red hanten” is the blood spattered wall.

Inagawa Junji (a radio and television personality) tells his version of “Red Hanten” in which a ghost in post-war Japan sings “Shall I dress you in a red hanten?” from the toilet and kills the police officer by stabbing her in the neck. He said he heard the story while doing a radio ghost story special 30 years ago in which he gathered real-life ghost stories on postcards from elderly female listeners.

Inagawa supposedly investigated the school himself and found the school had been used as a dormitory for Kamikaze (suicide) troops during the war. According to Inagawa, after the war, a mother of one of the soldier’s visited the school. When she went in the bathroom, she saw many soldiers had written their names on the wall before being deployed. She found her own son’s name and died immediately from shock and sorrow. It is believed the voice of the “Red Hanten” is the the mother’s curse. If you’d like to see him telling his version in Japanese, there here’s a version on youtube, 稲川淳二 赤い半纏.

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