It's a day when people play jokes and horrible hoaxes on people—but generally, people are aware enough that such dirty deeds are perpetrated on this day, that it is very difficult to fool a fool.
Before the non-national holiday became an annual event, there were a couple of precursor's, namely Hilaria, a Roman festival held on March 25, and the Feast of Fools held on December 28, which is a medieval presentation of pranks still afflicting Spanish-speaking countries to this day.
Back in 1392, the widely discussed Canterberry Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, notes in the "Nun's Priest's Tale" (a 626-line poem involving a sly fox and a rooster), that the actual date of the adventure is 'Syn March began thirty days and two.'… which if you do the math, takes us to April 1.
I love it... a sly fox and his prey... a chicken... it's even more perfect for April Fool's Day, though it is not an April Fool's story... though the fox tricks the rooster and eventually the rooster gets his comeuppance... but it sure sounds like an April Fool's Day event...
As an aside, I've read Chaucer, and his stories are quite entertaining, but you do have to pay attention to words and the now-archaic spellings, while trying to determine what some words actually mean.
Anyhow… nowadays, when you pull a prank on someone, after letting them stew in the mess, you yell out "April Fool" which, although it makes the victim feel silly, also relieves them of their current stress… even though they have now been labelled an 'April Fool'.
In Japan… April Fool's Day is not a popularly known event… at least not amongst the Japanese, so I might recommend not pulling a joke on a Japanese co-worker or superior or even a wife (right, Matthew?).
The Japanese might have heard of this event... probably from a gaijin asking if it exists in Japan.
The Japanese may come off all straight and serious, but they have a warped and wonderful sense of humor...but... like myself, they don't need a special day to try and play jokes on people.. they do it when they can... if they can...
So... there is no April Fool's Day in Japan... at least not 'officially". But... depending on your situation... feel free to do a jodan (joke) or, if you must, try something wacky on "Shigatsu baka" or "eipuriru fuuru" (using the English expression).
Shigatsu means 'fourth month', which is April... baka means stupid or horse deer, depending on how you read the Kanji lettering. Eipuriru Fuuru... that's the katakana alphabet pronouncing April Fools. Really.
Despite often being accused of being a funny guy, I probably have more of a sharp wit and can exchange in witty banter with anyone about anything. I can also write comedy when I see fit, and even tell a joke, both clean and dirty, that will have you kicked out of a classroom for disrupting it. I've done that twice as a student.
I've even created at least two original jokes—both of which are incredibly tasteless and I will not repeat them here (Hmm, I only recall one at this time, though), though for the era I created them in - effing hilarious.
I am not, however, much of a practical joke kind of a guy. I might do a brief statement and then say 'kidding', but creating an elaborate story to fool someone—that's not my cup of o-cha (Japanese green tea).
And yet… for reasons wholly unknown to me then or now, I pulled one off while in Japan.
I've mentioned it before in this blog, but it really does bear repeating, because it's one you can do… and do anytime whilst in Japan. You may come of looking like an a$$hole, so make sure you can handle that - I can, apparently. Because I don't care.
Click HERE to read this classic and 100% true blog tale from 2010 that I wrote.
All I can say, is that if I had pulled this on April Fool's Day while in Japan, it would have been the greatest joke a gaijin has ever pulled in that country since he said "Don't worry, I'll only put it in for a second."