Home » Aka Manto: Red Paper or Blue Paper? – Japanese Urban Legend/Creepypasta

Today, we introduce you to Aka Manto, a Japanese urban legend that dwells in school toilets

Red or blue? Will the choice result in stopping that phantom? Once you face it, there might be no escape…

What is Aka Manto In Japanese Urban Legends?

Aka Manto (赤マント/Red Cape), often referred to as Akai Kami, Aoi Kami (赤い紙、青い紙/Red Paper or Blue Paper) as well, is a famous Japanese urban legend/the name given to the phantom in the story. There are several variations, but it is often portrayed as a phantom or spirit that inhabits school toilets.

The urban legend started to be told around the 1930s-1940s and eventually spread nationwide.
Considering that the other Japanese urban legend Hanako-san (Hanako of the toilet), also associated with school toilets, began in the 1950s and spread nationwide in the 1980s-1990s, Aka Manto has a longer history.

↓Check out Hanako-san’s deep dive here!


Hanako-San (Hanako Of The Toilet): Ghost Girl Haunts School Toilets – Japanese Urban Legend/Creepypasta

Aka Manto Urban Legend Story (podcast)

<–podcast episode coming soon!–>

There are several variations, but the most famous one goes like this…

In an empty school toilet at dusk, a girl finished her business in a private stall and when she tried to wipe, there was no paper.

When she was in trouble, a voice came out of nowhere.
‘Do you want red paper or blue paper?”

Though she was surprised and a bit hesitant, the girl replied, “Red paper”.

At that moment, blood gushed from her body, and she died.
All of her clothes and body turned red, covered with blood…

Another female student who heard this story was afraid to go to the toilet, but she couldn’t resist and eventually went there.
Then, after all,

‘Do you want red paper or blue paper?”

She remembered the story of another girl who died after answering ‘red paper’, so she quickly answered ‘blue paper’.

At that moment, all the blood was drained from her body, and she died.
Her skin turned blue without any blood left…

Characteristics of Aka Manto


Phantom in red cape

Variations exist in different stories about the appearance of Aka Manto.
Also, as in the story described in the chapter above, the appearance is sometimes not unidentified, and only the voice will appear.

However, the most common theory is that he is a man wearing a red cape.
In some cases, his face is described as the pale male face, while in others, he wears white masks like the Japanese Noh mask.

Lurks in School toilets

Aka Manto inhabits mainly school toilets. It is said to appear when visiting unpopular toilets alone, especially in the late afternoon.

There is a theory that the location of the private stall where he appears is fixed, and it is said to be when you enter the fourth private stall from the front.

deadly choice between red paper and blue paper

You may hear this question when you enter a private stall.

‘Red paper or blue paper?’
Another pattern exists with different colours, such as ‘red paper or white paper’, or with different objects, such as ‘red cape or blue cape’.

When asked this, you have to choose one or the other.

Inescapable Death is where you end up…

Can one of the choices make things better? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

If you answer red, you will be cut to pieces, and your body will turn red. If you answer blue or white, your blood will be drained, and your body will turn blue and white.

Aka manto brings an unreasonable and cruel end to the story all the time…

What could be the origin of Aka Manto?


There are many theories about Aka Manto’s origin. Here are some of the most popular ones.

Toilet Yokai in Kyoto

There has long been a legend in Kyoto that a yokai called Kainade (or Kainaze かいなで/かいなぜ) appears in toilets. Kainade is said to be a yokai that reaches out from inside a toilet bowl and tries to touch the ass with his hand.

The way to deal with Kainade is to call out to him, “Do you want red paper or white paper?”, which is said to prevent it from appearing.

Red paper and white paper were introduced earlier in this article as one of the patterns of Aka Manto, so the similarities between them have led to the theory that this yokai Kainade could be the origin of Aka Manto.

Transformation of the toilet god

In Japan, there was once a custom of making the toilet the object of worship, and a deity called Kawayagami (かわやがみ/厠神) had been worshipped. As part of this, paper dolls were placed on the toilet in some regions, and it is said that the paper dolls were red and blue or red and white in colour.

The object of belief may sometimes be the flip side of the object of fear. So it is possible that this fear of the toilet god led to the urban legend of Aka Manto.

Guilty conscience of school students

It should be common knowledge around the world that schools have regular exams, but do you know what they call it in Japan when an exam score is too low, and you fail it?

In Japan, scores that result in a failing exam are called Akaten (赤点/red mark). It is said that students used to flush the returned red exam papers down the toilet out of frustration.

A white test paper with a red mark. Here, too, we can see similarities with Aka Manto.
It could be an interesting theory if the students’ self-consciousness of doing something guilty led to the urban legend of Aka Manto.

Other Variations of Aka Manto


The urban legend of Aka Manto has some other variations, depending on the region, time period, or media in which it was told. I will share some of the most famous ones here.

Aka Manto that kidnaps girls

Around the 1930s~40s, a different version of Aka Manto urban legend was spread around the nation.

This was the story of a monstrous phantom in a red cape who kidnapped and murdered children. The victims are said to be mostly young girls, and his area of operation is said to be in the streets, not in school toilets.

Since he looks similar to the Aka Manto in toilets, and both urban legends originated around the same time, we don’t know which came first, but they possibly influenced each other and developed along different routes.

Akai Hanten (赤い半纏)

At a junior high school, a female student was doing her business in the toilet when she heard a voice saying, “Shall I put Akai Hanten on you?”. (Hanten is kind of a casual kimono-style coat)

When the frightened female student later talked about it to a school teacher, it turned out that the teacher had also had a similar experience.
A police investigation was launched at the school’s request, and a policewoman entered the toilet in question.

In response to the voice in question, the policewoman shouted, “Just put it on me!”
The next moment, there was a scream from the policewoman. When other officers rushed to the scene, the policewoman was lying in a pool of blood, with blood splattered on the wall…

This Akai Hanten story became famous separately from Aka Manto’s story, but when you check around, both have much in common with each other.

Aka Manto’s Appearance in Pop Culture


Since the 1990s, several films, animations and video games have featured Aka Manto as a phantom itself or episodes based on its urban legends.

In the Korean drama SQUID GAME, which became a worldwide hit in 2021, a game using red and blue paper is introduced during the invitation phase to the death game. The director revealed that this red and blue paper originated from the Aka Manto urban legend.

Aka Manto still keeps children away from school toilets…

My personal belief is that Japanese children grow up frightened by urban legends about toilets.
Aka Manto will continue to keep children away from toilets forever and ever, along with Hanako-san of the Toilet.

↓Check out these related articles as well to find out more about Japanese urban legends/creepypastas!


My Top 10 Japanese Urban Legends/Creepypastas of the Scariest


Toshi Densetsu – Japanese Urban Legend/Creepypasta Archives

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