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Japanese April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Joke food bounces back. (1934)
Numerous American papers reported that a shipment of fake donuts and pretzels from Japan, intended for the April Fool's Day market, had been halted by US quarantine authorities, on the grounds that the straw and cotton innards of the fake food might contain dangerous bacteria and fungi. It was noted that, "In Japan April 1 is just another day. The market there for straw doughnuts and cotton pretzels is nill." More…
Astro Boy to the Rescue. (2003)
The Tokyo Shimbun reported that the Japanese government was planning to send robots modelled on the 1960s cartoon character Astro Boy to assist with post-war reconstruction in Iraq. They noted: "It is partly aimed at showing the world the right way to use science technology following the loss of confidence in US high-tech weapons." More…
Oil Found in Japan. (2003)
The Tokyo Shimbun reported the discovery of a huge oil field (over 110 billion barrels, about the size of Iraqi reserves) in the Tokyo Gulf. It was predicted that this would tip the balance of power with Washington in Japan's favour. More…

Lottery Tickets Instead of Pension Payments. (2004)
The Tokyo Shimbun reported this on its front page: "The government is seriously considering a project which includes issuing lottery tickets to citizens to balance the inevitable cuts in pensions counting on the fact that it would be better to give them dreams of future wealth instead of making them pay more in order to keep present pension figures." Readers were said to be hopeful that the joke didn't turn out to be a satirical prophecy. More…

Giant Penguin. (2005)
Tokyo's Ueno Zoo announced that it had discovered a remarkable new species of penguin: A giant-sized creature called the Tonosama (Lord) Penguin, 165cm-tall and weighing 80kg. Its favorite food was "white fish meat with soy sauce." The giant penguin was revealed to the public on April 1, eliciting the following reaction from the other penguins: "As the cameras rolled, the real penguins rose their beaks and gazed up at the purported Lord - but then walked away disinterested when he took off his penguin face to reveal himself to be zoo director Teruyuki Komiya." More…
TomoToday—Instant Virtual Friends. (2009)
The Japan Times profiled a new social-networking service called TomoToday that would provide people with instant virtual friends, recruited from the ranks of unemployed temp workers. The service complemented sites such as Facebook by providing "a short cut to a substantial social-media presence." "TomoToday subscribers will be able to choose from strategically selected sets of virtual friends, dubbed 'InstaNakama,' tailor-made to nurture the user's desired online identity. Say you're a shy young man, in need of pointers and ice-breaking intros. The Wingumen are at your service... Other readymade TomoToday circles include: Jetto Setto (multilingual friends from all over the globe); OB-Gun More…
Domino’s Canned Pizza. (2013)
Domino's Japan revealed an exciting new product — pizza in a can. Perfect for those on-the-go. Each can contained a rolled-up slice of pizza. Simply open the can, heat it up, and enjoy pizza that tastes as if it's fresh from the oven! The concept parodied "bread in a can," which was a real product that became popular in Japan around 2006, and was sold in vending machines. More…
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