Red paper or blue paper?

“Red paper or blue paper?” is a popular urban legend that has been circulating the elementary schools of Japan for the past twenty or so years (that’s a rough estimate). Many people believe it has its roots in the yokai Kainade, due to the similar phrase “White paper or red paper?.”

There are a number of versions to the story, but here’s the one that seems to be the oldest:

“A young boy went to use the toilet as night was falling at his elementary school. When he was finished, he reached out for toilet paper but his fingers touched an empty roll. As he did so, a voice said, ‘Do you want red paper or do you want blue paper?

The boy answered, ‘Red paper.’ At that moment, blood began to pour out from all over his body and he died.

Another student heard about the boy and was afraid. But one evening he couldn’t hold it any longer and he had to go to the toilet. As his fingers touched the empty toilet paper roll, the voice came again and asked, ‘Do you want red paper or do you want blue paper?’ The boy remembered the student whose blood had poured out and said, ‘Blue paper.’ At that moment, all his blood vanished, he turned blue, and died. ”

Another popular variation is that the boy who chose blue paper was strangled by invisible hands and then turned blue. And in some parts of Japan when red paper is chosen, a rain of blood pours down from the ceiling. Some Internet sites recommend asking for yellow paper because of its color (I’ll let you put that together) and then the toilet-user will be safe. However, other versions of the story insist that if you ask for any color other than red (including blue), the voice will say there isn’t any paper that color and you will be forced to choose red.

According to Wikipedia, the toilet in the original story is located in the fourth stall of a rarely used bathroom by a gymnasium in a Tokyo elementary school.

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