The New Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary has been an urban legend for far too long, till date people wish to summon her some claim that they have succeed in calling her, whereas some just made a fool out of themselves. According to Giovanni Caputo explains that staying in a dimly lit room and staring at the mirror for a long hour can cause people to hallucinate all kinds of things. Such as seeing facial appearance which melts, distort, disappear and rotate or seeing an animal or strange faces. These type of hallucination is called “strange- face illusion” which causes the brain’s facial-recognition system to misfire in an unidentified way.

However, can that explanation be applied to the modern Japanese urban legend Hanako-san? She is also at times said to be the Japanese version of Bloody Mary. Hanako-san or Toire no Hanako-san is a Japanese urban legend which revolves around the spirit of a young World War II era girl who allegedly haunts school bathrooms. “Hanako” was a common girl’s name in Japan in the 1950s. Hanako is a Japanese word which means of the toilet. She is believed to appear when someone shouts her name out loud.

Legend says that when a person who goes to the third stall in the girls’ bathroom on the third floor and knocks three times before asking, “Are you there, Hanako-san”, he/she will hear a voice answer, “I’m here”. If the person chooses to enter the stall he/she will witness a small girl in a red skirt.


In Japan, this urban legend has achieved a lot of fame. Hanako-san has become a popular and widespread urban legend mostly played by school children as a rite of courage, or a method to rag new students, similar to the Bloody Mary urban legend in Western schools.

The origins or behaviors of Hanako-san depend majorly on the area or school. It is believed that her appearance can also be different, but is mostly of a young girl with bobbed hair and a red skirt. Her personality is said to be mischievous, wicked or kindly. After one has summoned Hanako-san and she has answered him/her, he/she will witness and be eaten by a three-headed lizard as they enter the stall that is if they have mimicked a girl’s voice, believed in Yamagata prefecture.

In Iwate prefecture, after one has called Hanako-san a large white hand emerges from the door. In the Kanagawa prefecture after one call out her name, a hand with blood stains on them appear.

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