Hanako-san or Toire no Hanako-san (トイレのはなこさん, "Hanako of the toilet") is a Japanese urban legend about the spirit of a young World War II–era girl who haunts school bathrooms. She allegedly appears when one shouts her name.
According to the legend, 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", will hear a voice answer "I'm here". If the person chooses to enter the stall there will be a small girl in a red skirt.
Hanako-san is a popular and widespread urban legend, often played by school children as a rite of courage, or a method of hazing for new students, similar to the Bloody Mary urban legend in Western schools. Also, it is an excuse for teachers to make students want to leave the bathroom cleaned up.
Hanako-san has been noted to have various origins and behaviors, depending on the area or school, and is a widespread legend across Japan. Her appearance can also be different, but is usually that of a young girl with bobbed hair and a red skirt. She can be either mischievous, malevolent or benign.
Yamagata prefecture: After Hanako-san has answered and one enters the stall, he or she will find and be eaten by a three-headed lizard who had mimicked a girl's voice.
Iwate prefecture: After one has called Hanako-san, a large white hand emerges from the door.
Kanagawa prefecture: After one has called her, a blood-stained hand will appear.
"Hanako" was a common and typical girl's name in Japan during the 1950s when the legend supposedly began.