In the bathroom on the third floor, knock three times on every door from closest to farthest and ask “Is Hanako there?” Repeat this three times, after the third time a voice will come softly from the third stall, “Yes.”
When you open the door, a girl in a red skirt and white button-down, with bangs and shoulder length hair will drag you into the toilet.
Supposedly the urban legend began in 1950 as “Hanako of the third stall.” In the 1980s, her story became widely known all over Japan, and in the 1990s a variety of movies and animes were made about her. She is now known as “Hanako of the Toilet”
Hanako is probably the best known toilet ghost in Japan, and many people have tried to summon her in elementary school. My husband says I’m an idiot for reading urban legends in my free time, but today I was lazing around while he played a video game and I said to the air, “Hanako, irashaimasuka (are you there)?” And he said, “You shouldn’t say that!” And I think he’s actually a little scared of Hanako.
Her origin stories are varied and numerous. Here’s a few of the most popular:
1) Hanako’s mother lost her mind and tried to kill her daughter. Hanako hid from her in the 3rd toilet stall at school, but was found and killed (sometimes it’s her father).
2) A girl came to play at school on a day school was not in session. A pedophile noticed her and followed her to the school. She hid in the girl’s bathroom, but was eventually assaulted and killed.
3) During WWII a girl named Hanako was starving but agreed to play hide and seek with her friends at school. While hiding in the girl’s bathroom, her body finally gave in to hunger and she died there.
4) Hanako was a girl killed by an abusive parent. She wore her hair in the bob style to hide the marks on her face and neck.
5) Hanako is the ghost of a girl who fell from a library window and died.
Allegedly, her grave can be found in a garbage dump in Saitama or behind a school gymnasium in Tokyo.
As she is so well known and beloved, variations on her story abound. I dug around the Internet reading them…it took over an hour to sift through all the variations. Most of them are the number of knocks or which stall you enter. Here are the ones listed on her Japanese Wikipedia page:
☆ Instead of saying, “Hanako, are you there?” say, “Hanako, let’s play.” A voice will say, “Yes. What will we play?” If you say, “Let’s play strangle me,” you will be strangled and killed (it really seems like a line that should be coming from Hanako, not the person looking for her…unless this belongs in my practically empty ‘kinky ghost story’ file.)
☆ In Yamagata, it is believed that when you call Hanako and she responds in an unsettling voice, something bad will happen.
☆ Another story from Yamagata is Hanako’s true form is a giant 3-meter (about 9 feet) lizard with three heads. It’s victims drop their guard when they hear a girl’s voice, but when they enter the toilet stall, they are eaten.
☆ In Iwate prefecture, when you enter the third stall, a voice may say “Hanako of the third stall” and a white hand will reach out from the toilet.
☆ In Shimane prefecture, if you do not play with Hanako when she appears she will chase you.
☆ In Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture, Hanako is in the girl’s bathroom and Yosuke is in the boy’s bathroom. After calling them you will be killed if you don’t run away in three seconds. Also, if you circle the toilet in the boy’s room three times and say “Hanako-san” a blood-covered hand will reach out of the toilet.
☆ In Hyogo prefecture, Hanako’s father is in the 1st stall, her mother in the 2nd, her younger sister in the 4th, her younger brother in the 5th. In the boy’s bathrrom, her father is in the 2nd stall and says “Do you have business with my Hanako?” She has other relatives named Hanadan 花男 and Kohanako 小花子. This family of ghosts holds a reunion every year in Gunma prefecture and decide their policies for the year. She has a boyfriend named Taro and they play basketball in the school gym late at night.
☆ Hanako uses a pen to fix any fading writings in the girl’s bathroom so if you say, “Well done,” she answers, “It’s my thanks for frightening you all every day.”
☆ In Osaka, if you call Hanako and knock on the door, a voice in Tokyo dialect will answer saying, “That’s dangerous. Stop it.”
☆ A boy fell down on the school grounds and got small cuts on his knees, in those cuts he got infected with “Hanako germs,” and mushrooms grew under the scab.
☆ In a school there are twin sisters named Kanako 花菜子 and Kayoko 花世子. Kanako died in an accident and Kayoko was often mistaken for her ghost. She was upset by this and killed herself. Now they sometimes appear and are known as “Hanako Twins.” (The kanji in their names is the same “flower” 花 as in Hanako’s name.)
☆ In an elementary school in Tokyo, if you go to the back of the bathroom and say, “Hanako?” a voice will answer, “What?” and if it’s after 4pm, you can say, “Hanako, I’m sorry,” and the voice will answer, “It’s all right.”
☆ In an elementary school in Gifu prefecture, there is an old-fashioned toilet (the kind that is dug out underneath, so you look inside and see darkness, like an outhouse) and if you walk around it three times and say, “Hanako?” a voice will answer, “Yes?”
☆ In an elementary school in Saitama, if you knock 15 times on the fourth door and say, “Hanako, let’s play,” she will answer, “Yes.”
☆ When entering the 3rd toilet stall, knock 5 times and say, “Hanako?” three times and you won’t be able to open the door. If you force it open you will experience sleep paralysis or be spirited away (hahaha, or you will be punched by a person with their pants down.)
☆ If you show Hanako a test score of 100% she will scream and run away.
One blogger pointed out that many people in Japan claim to have heard Hanako’s voice or seen her. She adds that when she was a child, she believed she had heard Hanako’s voice, but that on reflection, she thinks it was upper-classmen playing a joke on her. Sounds like a fun idea if you have any younger relatives or friends with kids you’d like to scare sh*tless \(^o^)/