For many of us, the most terrifying experience we have in the bathroom is realizing the new package of toilet paper is sitting on a table down the hall. But for some, a trip to the toilet may make a turn toward terror.
In Japanese folklore, there are a number of spirits rumored to appear in bathrooms. Some reach out from the insides of toilets; others whisper through the stall walls. Each one has its own grim story and particular behavior, but they all share a connection to the bathroom.
Not content to have one or two types of bathroom boogeymen, the Japanese have made a genre out of it. Here, via Atlas Obscura, are a few of the more interesting.
This legend tells of a little girl who died when her legs were cut off by a train.
Her legless torso now haunts bathroom stalls, asking unlucky visitors, “Where are my legs?” The correct response, “On the Meishin Expressway,” could save your life.
Memorize that, because without it she’ll rip your legs off.
The Akaname.. literally “scum licker”.
This goblinesque yōkai spirit is filthy and disheveled, with a long, protruding tongue, and according to Foster, it is primarily known for licking the filth off of bathtubs.
You could look at this one two ways. Either he’s motivation to keep your tub clean so he won’t come around… or he’s the ugly little pet you don’t have to feed, who keeps the bathtub clean.
Kappa are technically water spirits, but since there is water in the bathroom, they sometimes end up in one.
But there are a lot of legends in which the kappa appears in an outhouse, where it harasses people (especially women),” says Foster.
Fortunately, kappa can be repelled with… ahem… biological weapons.
If only all our problems could be blown off so easily.