The Horror that Awaits You in Japanese Bathrooms

Japanese folklore has several kinds of bathroom monsters and spirits that haunt bathrooms. Some spirits are even rumored to reach out from inside the toilet bowl and whisper through the walls. Each being has its own grim tale but all share a particular connection to the bathroom.

According to Michael Dylan Foster, author of The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore, bathrooms are considered transitional spaces that connect to our own realm. The toilet is likened to a portal to a mysterious otherworld. Here are some of the Japanese supernatural spirits that lurk in the bowels of the sewers that may creep up to haunt you:

Akaname—this strange but very useful supernatural monster actually likes to lick bathrooms clean! Akaname means “filth licker” and supposedly appears at night to lick the grime off dirty bathrooms.

Akaname. | Patrick Gannon

Toire no Hanako-san or “Hanako of the Toilet” – As the story goes, she is a little girl dressed in a red skirt with bobcut hair. She is said to inhabit the third stall on the third floor of elementary school toilets. Those who wish to summon her must knock three times on the stall door and ask if she is in there or not. She is generally considered to be harmless, however there are some stories that speak of how some people were dragged into the toilet. She can be stopped if one presents a perfect score on an exam.

Kawaya no Kami – known to be the toilet god who was born from the excrement of the goddess Izanami. Toilets in older times were much darker and dangerous than the more modern versions. Kawaya no Kami is said to be the protector of those who use toilets. People honor him by keeping their toilets pristine and decorated. Sometimes, people even dine there to symbolize eating the food which was left by the god. Before using the toilet, people are also said to make their presence known by coughing because Kawaya no Kami is said to sometimes take the form of a blind man hiding at the bottom of the toilet and holding a spear.

Aka-Manto – he is considered to be an evil spirit of the toilet. Aka-Manto’s form is said to have a white mask and red cloak, and is said to be very attractive. The spirit hides in the stall and when a person enters, he asks if the person would like a red or blue cloak. If a person chooses red, his neck would be sliced open, so that the blood would flow resembling the red cloak. Choosing blue would lead to death by choking as a person turns blue when deprived of oxygen. If the victim tries to trick Aka-Manto, the person would be dragged to hell through the toilet. The only way to escape death is by answering “yellow”. This would result in the spirit shoving the person’s face into the toilet full of waste.