In the confusion and uncertainty provoked by the outbreak of novel coronavirus in Japan, unfounded rumors that paper supplies from China would run out have fueled paper toilet hoarding across the nation. This, in spite of insurances by the Japanese Association of Paper Manufacturers that 98 percent of Japan's toilet paper is made domestically and that there are ample supplies.

As empty store shelves stare back at shoppers, some people have unfortunately resorted to stealing toilet paper rolls from bathrooms in stations, public facilities and stores.

Doujin illustrator and manga artist Minku (@moemoekohu) noticed the toilet paper was regularly disappearing from the store where Minku works, no matter how many times they were restocked. That's when Minku came up a plan to deter the thieves:

Reproduced with permission from Minku (@moemoekohu)

This design is reminiscent of strips of paper inscribed with spells called tōin gofu 刀印護符 used by the Onmyōji, specialists in magic and divination who practiced from the late 7th century in the Heian Period. You can do a Google search for 刀印護符 to see examples. You can also see approximations of these spell strips in manga such as Twin Star Exorcists.

Although the tōin gofu were designed to repel evil rather than directly curse someone, to discourage would-be thieves, Minku made a (fake) version which could be interpreted as a curse, as it contains the kanji characters 盗罰 (meaning "thieves will be punished") on the right side and the kanji 弔 meaning "condolences for the dead" and, perhaps most frighteningly, the kanji 厄 meaning "disaster" or "suffering" written three times in a row.

Positioned underneath what looks like three eyes watching vigilantly, the entire design creates a very foreboding atmosphere. Even someone unfamiliar with these kinds of spells will recognize the unlucky kanji written there and surely think twice before attempting to take a roll of toilet paper.

Minku also reveals that this isn't the first time:

Ironically, one of the toilet paper pilferers seemed to like it too:

Seeing how the post went viral, with over 281,000 likes and 15,000 retweets at time of writing, Minku took the opportunity to do some self-promotion of work inspired by Masami Kurumada's manga 風魔の小次郎 Fuma no Kojiro:

By - Ben K.