There are some questions you never want to hear when you’re in a public restroom stall.
“Got any spare toilet paper?” comes to mind.
“Is your toilet backing up too?” is worse.
“Have you ever heard of sewer ‘gators? I think there might be one – ” enough said.
But there are far, far worse questions.
Here are some:
“Would you like red or blue toilet paper?”
If you hear a voice asking this outside of your stall, consider the consequences of your answers:
To answer ‘red’ is to ask to be flayed alive by the ghost known as Akai-Kami-Aoi-Kami, until you are drenched in your own blood.
Saying ‘blue’ will either get you suffocated or slit and drained of all your blood.
Is there a way out?
In some variants, you can say ‘yellow’;
If you do, the Akai-Kami-Aoi-Kami will burst in, dunk your head into the bowl, and urinate on you.
Unpleasant, yes, but it still beats flaying or asphyxiation.
[A variant spirit, Aka-manto, wears a red cloak, asking if the intended victim would prefer a red or blue mantle.
Along with the red cape, he is supposedly quite handsome under his death white mask…
When he’s not cutting or strangling you, that is.]
If you hear a scratching sound, like something dragging itself on the floor, you might have run into a Teke Teke.
Teke teke…teke teke…that’s the sound it makes as it inches its way towards you.
Pulling itself on the tiles.
The most famous Teke Teke is Reiko Kashima.
As the story goes, she was gang raped and left to die by the train tracks. She crawled away, only to be cut in half by a passing train.
Teke teke…teke teke…
She drags her entrails behind her on the floor.
Then, she knock on your stall door:
“Where are my legs?”
Incorrect answers will get your own legs sliced off, though some people think she can be distracted by mention of a major freeway.
Was that where she was headed before her gruesome end?
Only Reiko Kashima knows…
Then there are question you shouldn’t ask…
Like “Are you there, Hanako-San?”
Hanako-San is the most famous of the Japanese toilet ghosts. A child herself, she’s known to inhabit school bathroom stalls…specifically, the third stall from the door.
Hanako-San can be summoned by knocking on the stall three times and asking, “Are you there Hanako-San?”
This is typically followed by silence.
Except when it isn’t…
If she does respond, chances are that she’ll reach out and drag you down the toilet, straight to hell.
Why is she angry?
She was killed in a stall during a World War 2 bombing raid.
[There are, of course, multiple variants. One includes a three headed lizard, while others have Hanako murdered by a deranged parent or stranger]
Finally, some toilet ghosts are questions unto themselves.
This would be the case with the Akaname, or filth-licker. Human in shape, with gnarled red skin, it uses its pointy tongue to clean filth and grim from bathrooms.
Floors, sinks, toilets…
If you see one, the real question is: why is your bathroom so gross?
Or, if you’re in public: why in Akaname’s name can’t you hold it until we get home?
So, what are the take-aways?
Avoid public restrooms
Keep all bathroom surfaces clean
Wash your hands for twenty seconds
(oops, wrong disaster)
Lets try again, shall we?
You call the priest,
I’ll call the plumber…
On a more serious mythic/folkloric note, Matthew Meyer is an illustrator and folklorist based in Japan, whose site is an absolute treasure trove of Japanese Yokai (Ghosts): yokai.com. Check it out, it’s impressive. He’s also published three books: here’s the Amazon link to his author page.