Japanese urban legends – Part 2 –
“Toshi densetsu” : Japanese urban legends (2)
In this post, there are only two Japanese urban legends.
The main topic is a Japanese toilet.
A high school girl had a nightmare that she was mangled by a psychopath with his knife on the way home from her school.
It was so vivid that she couldn’t forget about the dream after she woke up the next morning.
In the afternoon, when she was walking home, she noticed she was near the place where she was murdered in the dream.
She’s got a bad feeling, so she phoned her home and asked to pick her up.
She went to a convenience store nearby and read a magazine while she was waiting for the car.
Then, suddenly she felt somebody was watching her.
She looked up and saw the psychopath outside through the window.
He was glaring at her and said in disgust;
“Hey, different from my dream!”
Akai kami, aoi kami (Red paper, blue paper)
At a school in the evening, a boy went to a toilet.
He noticed there was no paper left after.
Then there was a voice asking, “Shall I give you red paper or blue paper?”
He answered “Red”.
In the next moment, all the blood spewed out from his body, and he was dead in his own blood.
Another boy heard this story.
He was frightened to go to the toilet, but he was desperate and had no choice.
When he went there, the same question was asked.
The boy answered “Blue”.
In the next moment, all the blood was gone from his body, and he was dead.
– Note –
Some people say this red-or-blue paper story originates from “Aka manto” (a red cape):
A story of a man wearing a red cape who kidnaps and kills children.
This red-cape man probably is based on a true crime story, the “ao getto” (blue blanket) murder.
It’s a creepy, unsolved case in Fukui in 1906.
Three members of a family were assumed to be brutally murdered by a man wearing a blue blanket over his head.
(The body of the master of the family had never been found)
If you are interested, see here.(Japanese page)
There are many horror / monster stories related to a toilet in Japan.
I guess this is because in the old times, every toilet was “washiki”, Japanese squat-type toilet.
It was not flushable, so it was a hole in the ground.
In addition, the light in a toilet was not strong, and that made the “washiki” toilet usually a dim place.
To prevent somebody falling in, there was a lid to cover the hole, but of course you have to take the lid away, straddle the toilet and take a squat pose when you have your business to do, and you sometimes feel cool air from the hole…
Perhaps you can imagine how scary it was especially in the night even for adults.
If you are (un)lucky, you may be able to come across this old “washiki” toilet in an old house.
I described this type of toilet as “Toppon benjyo”, but my colleague called it as “Botton benjyo”.
(“benjyo” means “toilet”, and both “toppon” and “botton” are onomatopoeia of the sound which a thing drops into the darkness)
The god and a monster in a toilet
In Kyoto area, there is a “youkai” (Japanese monster) called “Kainade” or “Kainaze”.
If you go to a toilet in the night on a day of “setsubun”
*, in the beginning of February, “Kainade” will stroke you.
To avoid this, you just have to say “Shall I give you red paper or white paper?”
Around 1940, there was a legend that your bottom would be licked or stroked if you answered the voice asking “Shall I give you red paper or white paper?” when you went to a toilet in a school.
There were similar stories throughout Japan, and they were probably derived from old domestic monsters like “Kainade”.
Furthermore, this kind of monster in a toilet may originate from a god.
In Japan, it is said that there are eight-million (= numerous) gods.
That means there is a god everywhere and of course in a toilet.
The god called “Ususama myouou” (originally an Indian god) has the power to get rid of dirt and evil, and is supposed to be “the guardian of a toilet”.
There are several temples where this god is worshipped and “Kaiun-ji” in Shinagawa, Tokyo is one of them.
You should be able to get a talisman for your toilet there.
I heard people had a service for the god in a toilet on a certain day in some areas, and in Makabe county in Ibaraki, male and female dolls would be offered to a toilet.
The dolls are made with blue and red or red and white papers.
I guess this sort of service was held in many places in the old times, but I’m not sure if there are any areas left where it is still held.
Literal meaning is seasonal division.
Originally from China, and there were four “setsubun” days.
The present “setsubun” is only once for spring, around February 4th.
Superstition and service related to a toilet and a baby
It is said if a pregnant woman cleans a toilet, she will have a beautiful baby.
When you clean a washiki toilet, you need to bend down.
People believed that a woman would have a safe delivery if they did jobs which required them to crouch down back then.
This might be partially a reason of the superstition.
There is (was?) also a service called “setchin-mairi”.
“Setchin” is another (old) word for toilet.
“Mairi” means “a visit”.
A midwife brings a newborn baby to a toilet after certain days from his / her birth.
I found several different reasons of this service.
For example, one said the baby would grown up beautifully.
Another one said that a newborn baby belongs to gods rather than this world, and a toilet is a border between the gods’ world and the real.
By bringing a baby to the border, he / she would know he / she belongs to this mortal world.
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
There are mysterious legends around Sugawara no Michizane. Most of them are episodes after he was framed by his political enemy. Michizane and the flying plum tree This legend is very well-known along with the following poem. The night before he left his home in Kyoto, the capital at that time, he composed a poem […]
I’m sure many of those who have been to Japan would agree that one of the places that got them spend money are 100 yen shops. These are shops that sell items that mostly cost 100 yen exclusive of tax. The items range from food to housewares to accessories, or in other words, there’s a […]
There are several ways of saying “Thank you” in Japanese. In this post, I am going to explain the most common phrase for “Thank you”. Arigatou (gozai masu / mashita) The phrase was derived from “Arigatashi”, which literally means “difficult to be”. The Kanji in “ari” means “there is” or “be (there)”, and another in […]
The rest of “Iroha-uta”, line by line Line 3 From a Buddhism thought, “Free from living and dying(, by entering Nirvana)”. [First half] Meaning: The deep mountain called life, “Ui” is also a Buddhism word. It means “every thing and phenomenon which comes from various karma(, always lives and dies and never lasts forever)”. Some […]
Roll up for the mystery tour! This one can be categorized as an urban legend as well. Masakado no Kubi-zuka (The burial mound for Masakado’s head) Quick History Taira no Masakado is said to be one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan. There are some novels about Masakado, and “Teito Monogatari” […]
At first, I was going to write about how to say “you” in Japanese, but the most common “you” word is a person’s name usually with suffix like “san”, “kun”, or “chan”. (ex. Hanako-san) This way of calling is used as third person as well. In this post, I’m trying to explain the variants and […]
“Iroha-uta” as a poem I’m going to explain the meaning of the poem in two posts. As I wrote in the previous post, it is thought to be composed in the Heian era (794 – 1185). In the major theory, the poem is said to express a doctrine from the Nirvana Sutra. But the poem […]
“Kitano Tenman-guu” in Kyoto to console Michizane In 942, Michizane’s spirit showed up before a girl from a poor family in Kyoto and ordered to build a shrine for him in “Ukon no baba” (“hippodrome controlled by the right guard office”), the place where he often visited during his life. Of course she didn’t have […]
One to ten in Japanese 2 In this post, I’m going to write minor version of one to ten in Japanese. I doubt if this is introduced in Japanese textbooks for foreign people. This is still used, but rather rare I guess. Also, it’s less favourable in the formal conversations or texts. Minor ways to […]
General, but not very often used “I” in Japanese Several first-person singular pronouns for common people, only used by some. Neutral [Jibun] “Jibun” means “oneself”. Can be used by anybody according to circumstances, but I guess few common people use this as a usual pronoun for themselves. Maybe male athletes often use this, especially in […]