For those of you who do not know, in a couple weeks, two idol groups (NECRONOMIDOL and Yanakoto Sotto Mute) and one solo idol (14Generations Toilet hanakosan) will be coming to America as a part of the East Meets West Music Festival in Anaheim, California. While I unfortunately can’t make it, I’d like to write an introduction to each of them for those of you who are going or just any English speaking idol fans who might be interested in learning about them.
Let’s start with Hanako-san!
Hanako-san’s full name in Japanese is 四十代目トイレの花子さん, which roughly translates to the 14th generation Hanako-san of the toilet, but since she has said that the official translation is 14Generations Toilet hanakosan, we’ll go with that.
Hanako-san makes a lot more sense if you know the Japanese urban legend from which her name is derived. The legend supposedly began in the 1950s (Hanako was a popular girl’s name then) and according to the legend, if you go to the third stall in the girls’ bathroom on the third floor, knock three times, and ask “Are you there, Hanako-san?”, a voice will answer, “I’m here.” If you then go in, you will see a young girl with bobbed hair and a red skirt. It’s very similar to Bloody Mary and like Bloody Mary, is often played as a rite of courage or a method of hazing with kids. There are many different variations depending on the school or region in Japan. Some say she is the ghost of a girl killed in an air raid in World War II, while others say she was murdered by a psychotic parent or stranger. In Yamagata prefecture, if you enter the stall, you’ll be eaten by a three headed lizard that just mimicked a girl’s voice. In Iwate prefecture, a white hand will emerge from the door when you call Hanako-san’s name and in Kanagawa prefecture, a blood stained hand will emerge.
With that information in mind, Hanako-san’s appearance makes a lot more sense, as does her frequent usage of toilet paper and the Rising Sun Flag. However, she’s explained some other things on her own. Hanako-san’s backstory is that she committed suicide by cutting off her head at 4:44:44 in the fourth stall of the girls’ bathroom on the fourth floor. Because of her method of death, she has to shout her songs. Hanako-san has a red eye called her “true eye” that causes misfortune, which is why she wears the eyepatch. The red toilet paper that Hanako-san uses is dyed with the blood of 4,444 people. Though she is over 400 years old, she is an eternal elementary school student and her human form is only temporary (her true form is that of a youkai).
Hanako-san debuted in 2013, but her performance has evolved a lot since then. In 2014, her performances started to become violent and she’d beat up a fellow member of her agency, break her agency’s cameras, and scream. At one venue, her screaming caused nearby tenants to complain, which led to her being banned from singing there. If you see the term “出禁系アイドル妖怪” being used to refer to Hanako-san, that’s why. In the summer of 2015, Hanako-san started performing at underground idol events (before that, it seemed to mostly be events with her agency, which mostly consists of entertainers) and began wielding chains and throwing mic stands and chairs. The next year, she started throwing toilet products (toilet paper and sanitary napkins), food (pastries, noodles, vegetables, tofu, ketchup, kimchi, salted fish guts, etc), and spitting juice.
As I mentioned earlier, Hanako-san screams her songs and has described her sound as “hageshii”, which could be translated as intense, violent, and/or hardcore. I’ve seen her music labeled as grindcore and certainly have never heard an idol that sounds like her. Hanako-san doesn’t post live videos or full versions of her songs, but you can get a good idea of what she sounds like by listening to her previews:
There’s a couple more on her YouTube channel, but those are the longest previews.
You’ve probably guessed by now that her lives are pretty messy, so after her live, Hanako-san and her fans clean up the venue. This takes about the same amount of time as her performance. If you’re going to her shows and especially if you plan on being close to the front, don’t wear anything that you care about too much.
At her lives, you can buy chekis (Polaroid pictures) and while she offers normal chekis, she also offers “destroy chekis”, where she chokes you until you can’t take it anymore and tap out. She’s apparently very strong for such a small girl (Hanako-san is about 4’11”) and doesn’t hold back, even with fellow girls (she seems to have a decent amount of female fans from what I’ve observed). Gifts to Hanako-san are called offerings and Hanako-san’s fans are called 花子病 (Hanako Byou or Hanako disease).
Hanako-san has had a number of media appearances; for example, she and her music were featured in the direct to DVD movie Ghost Paiters, a breast filled parody of Ghostbusters where I’m assuming she is one of the evil spirits that has to be busted. You can watch the trailer here:
Hanako-san is really into the internet and social media and says that looking at what other people say about her on Twitter and 2ch is one of her main hobbies. Her tweets are frequent and a little hard to read because she uses a very unique way of writing, filled with katakana where you normally wouldn’t use it. Both Hanako-san and her fans always tweet at 4:44 AM. While she might sound a bit scary, it’s clear that she really cares about her fans and appreciates the support, because she often replies to tweets, retweets things that fans post about her, and comments on fan art.
One thing that’s really cool about Hanako-san is the fact that although she’s with an agency (Yamaguchi Bintarou Turtle Company), she’s completely self-produced. Hanako-san is making all the shots on her songs, how she runs her performances, her merchandise, her meet and greets, and everything else. While she doesn’t compose her songs, I believe she writes the lyrics for all of them (I’m 100% sure she wrote the lyrics for ROSE OF KILLER and Akatsuki). There aren’t a lot of self-produced idols in the scene and I really respect the ones that are.
If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, it’s probably evident that I love learning about the likes, dislikes, hobbies, and skills of different idols. Random idol facts are really fascinating to me, so of course I have to include some random facts about Hanako-san! Her birthday is on 11/19, which is apparently World Toilet Day. Hanako-san likes bright red, the number four, chocolate, shortcake, strawberries, hamachi, maguro, and french fries. She doesn’t like black (it reminds her of her funeral), when people drop honorifics on her name (don’t call her Hanako!), being called an obake (probably because they are living supernatural creatures and she is a spirit of the dead), people telling her that she is playing a character, and when people get her mixed up with Zashiki warashi. Hanako-san is good at drawing, holding toilet paper on her head, making mistakes when riding the train, being short on money when traveling, and getting lost. I don’t know if some of those can be classified as skills, but I can certainly relate to some of them. She is also apparently bad at calculating change and often gets questioned by the police.
Hanako-san became associated with her agency because she was a big fan of the actress and supernatural storyteller Senka Ushidaki. She is also a big fan of the vocalist of the punk band QP-CRAZY and says he influenced her performance today. It’s likely that Hanako-san likes Osamu Dazai, because her randoseru backpack has a sticker of him on it. Hanako-san’s favorite youkai are kuchisake-onna and she is a fan of modern youkai in general. She also really likes B-grade Japanese horror, with her favorite being Carved 2: The Scissors Massacre. Hanako-san says she doesn’t get nervous because she doesn’t have a heart, she would tell her predecessors that she wants to become the most famous Hanako-san of the toilet in the human world, and she would strangle her partner on their first date.
So, if you want to support Hanako-san, how can you do so? Well, you can obviously go see her in Japan. Or you can go see her at the East Meets West Music Festival!
As it says on the poster, the East Meets West Music Fest takes place on 8/18-8/19 in Anaheim, California and she is also performing with Japanese idol groups NECRONOMIDOL and Yanakoto Sotto Mute, as well as with American and Japanese-American acts. Tickets are $40 per day or $70 for both days in advance or $100 for a VIP ticket that includes entrance for both days, entrance to the meet and greet, and an unsigned poster and photo set. Higher VIP tiers include things like T-shirts, penlights, signed items, exclusive unique items from each group, a signed large framed photo of the idol of your choice, and a personalized thank you video. With the higher VIP tiers, Hanako-san plans to draw something just for you! You can buy tickets here.
Can’t make the event or fly to Japan but you still want to show your support for Hanako-san? Well, you can pay $40 for a livestream ticket and watch the livestream of East Meets West while also supporting the event. You can also get the $400 VIP livestream ticket, which includes a signed poster, penlight, cheki set, and signed framed autograph picture of the member of your choice. That’s pretty expensive, yeah, but it’s exclusive stuff that you can’t get anywhere else and whenever I’ve seen framed autographed pictures of idols, they’ve gone for a lot of money.
Aside from that, Hanako-san has I believe two singles (ROSE OF KILLER and Akatsuki), one mini-album (Hajimete no Otearai), and one album (Makka no Toilet). You can only buy most of them at events, but you can buy Makka no Toilet at any large music retail shop in Japan, on Amazon JP, or on CDJapan, though it’s currently sold out. She also has a T-Shirt that you can buy here, However, if you can, obviously buying goods directly from Hanako-san is the best thing you can do. If you want to support her for free, send her some tweets or draw some fan art and post it on Twitter! She seems to really appreciate it.
You should also watch the JpopRocks English interview with Hanako-san! I think it’s a great way to learn more about her and get an idea of what it might be like to meet her.
Hanako-san is not for everyone, but she’s very unique and putting on a show like no other. I think that should be commended and I hope to someday meet her.
Have you seen Hanako-san live before? Are you going to East Meets West? Do you know anything about Hanako-san that I don’t? What do you think of her? Let me know!