Japanese Bathroom Ghosts.

Illustrations of the 12 different types of Kappa, a water spirit who is sometimes known to haunt outhouses, from the 19th century.

And why not? Lavatories are notoriously spooky, and across cultures. Japanese lav spooks are quite detailed, and there are plenty of urban legends to go around, too.

Kappas may be repelled by farts, but they were known to appear in outhouses all the same. Yoshitoshi/Public Domain.

Never forget the power of a good fart! Atlas Obscura has the full rundown on lavatory spooks, with more to read, videos to watch, and many more images!


  1. blf says

    Lavatories are notoriously spooky

    More, perhaps, the hunt to find one. They don’t seem to exist, than a faded sign is found, an increasingly desperate chase down noxious dark back-alleyways and dim creaking corridors with many turnings and no more signs, all hope lost, then a door! Locked, or with a scary-looking attendant, payment in a bizarre currency obsolete since the sacking of some ancient city, either toilet paper made from sandpaper with added (what you hope is) grit or (if lucky) no toilet paper at all, and mysterious spots on the floor resembling blood-drenched quicksand with trackways deeply eroding into the stone and looking like they were made by extra-large peas.

    And then there’s the toilets in Ireland, labeled Mná and Fir, meaning “Female” and “Male” respectively.

  2. says

    This has reminded me of this old cheesy movieGappa.

    I do not know whether kappas can be repelled by farts, but I certainly can be. Does that mean that I am a lavatory deamon?

  3. voyager says

    When I was a kid I often spent time at my aunt’s farm where the only bathroom was an outhouse. Spooky doesn’t begin to cover it. Trees scraped against the planks and whispered in grim voices. Things rustled and sometimes they howled. In summer there were snakes and the flies formed teams to chase you. In winter snow and ice found every crack, letting in these weird bands of light. And of course, you go alone. All alone in the small smelly shack with my big, vivid imagination. If only I’d known about the farts back then… I would have saved them up to do some ghost busting instead of running back to the house like the cowardly lion. On the bright side, I did learn the useful skill of the speed pee.

  4. says

    Charly, I think that might mean we’re all lav deamons!

    Voyager, I have the same outhouse in my childhood! I think they’re all the same…

  5. blf says

    …the speed pee

    For some reason, I first read that as speed the plow (video). Which in a sense almost seems appropriate, as it starts:

    The girl I love waits for me now
    She’ll be standing by the well
    She may have to wait until it’s dry

  6. StevoR says

    For what its worth, there was an excellent episode of the science wildlife doco TV show River Monsters on the Kappa which (using rot13* to avoid spoilers) ghearq bhg gb or cebonoyl vafcverq ol gur snfpvangvat naq ener Wncnarfr tvnag fnynznaqre. (Naqevnf wncbavphf.)

    * Decode using this site / code : http://www.rot13.com/ or you can alternatively use the River Monsters wikipedia page -season 4 “Lethal Legends” aired 23 May 2012.

  7. rq says

    Now if only farts repelled more than just demons and other people… Like mosquitos or wild animals or homework…

    Also, the outhouse was bad enough in decent weather, but sometimes, it was winter. Now that is a speed pee.

  8. Ice Swimmer says

    rq @ 8

    Yeah, -20 °C in an outhouse is quite uncomfortable (not only do you have to freeze your ass, but you have to dress heavily so as not to freeze the rest of the body), but at least the smell is less bad and there are no flies.

    My main beef with outhouses has been that they’re usually far away (for a good reason) and having to haul away the waste (a task for which I’m one of the likely candidates, if I’m present, because I can do it without puking). However, the worst experience as a kid must have been falling over into the thicket of nettles that grew around the outhouse we had at our summer cottage.

    A random language thing: One (colloquial, playful) word for an outhouse in Finnish is puusee (can be written puucee, pronounced the same), direct translation wood-C, a play on WC (WC and puusee rhyme in Finnish) and the fact that outhouses have been usually made of wood. Puu is pronounced “poo”. I don’t know how to explain the pronunciation of the long e to an English speaker, but “ee” is much like “ee” in German, not like “ee” in English.

  9. busterggi says

    Damn, there is a Japanese kaiju from the ’70’s or ’80’s that had digestive problems and was constipated -- it couldn’t defeat its enemies until it started eating vegetables and became regular -- anyone out there remember its name?

  10. blf says

    Tybo, of “The Great Vegetable Rebellion”.



    Ah, no, that was Lost in Space.
    And Tybo, being a giant carrot-man, would not be terribly happen about anyone trying to eat him.

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