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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Real Japanese Hoaxes

Here's a list of five Japanese hoaxes - good ones, as described by me because they really did fool a whole lotto people while bringing fame and eventually notoriety upon the perpetrator…  when they could be found.

For the purpose of wagering (kidding), I am placing these stories in the order of interest to myself, which means that I have one story I am saving for last, and the rest may be placed where they may.

AKB48  - The Great Pop & Droll Scandal

A-ha! Many of you are thinking, I knew that AKB48 must be a scam on the whole music industry. Well, it was… just as the Monkees and Sex Pistols were pre-fab groups, so too are AKB48 - but that's not the great rock and roll swindle.

No… it involves Eguchi Aikmi (surname first)… a member of the Japanese pop group AKB48… except that she's not.

I mean, she was part of the group, but she's just not a real person.

Eeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiii? So da ne.

She is a CGI (computer-generated image) made up of a total of six REAL AKB48 members:
    •    Atsuko Maeda (eyes)
    •    Tomomi Itano (nose)
    •    Mariko Shinoda (mouth)
    •    Yuko Oshima (hair/body)
    •    Minami Takahashi (facial outline)
    •    Mayu Watanabe (eyebrows)

I have no idea what is meant by 'outline' and am guessing at 'facial outline' but I wasn't impressed by the nose choice, but give two tongues up for the choice of body… er, I mean hair.

She is cute, ne? So much so that she actually appeared in the Japanese magazine Weekly Playboy.

Now… I'm not sure when that happened, but I would imagine that PhotoShop rather than Photographers were used - making this the first time photos were doctored in a men's adult magazine.

Sorry, I couldn't even write that with a straight face.

She also appeared in a Japanese commercial for the candy company Ezaki Glico... that's her in a still from the ad... with altered features showing her family tree.

Anyhow...Eguchi Aikmi was announced as the group's newest member in June 2011, with her official profile saying she was born on February 11, 1995 - and was 16-years-old and was from Saitama-ken...

Naturally, if she was in Playboy Weekly and a TV commercial... people knew she was only a CGI-image... and as such... it eventually came to light.

In fact, it was Glico that spilled the beans on June 19, 2011... saying she was actually constructed by the candy company and placed with the knowledge of the AKB48 management.

And... while it took nearly an additional two years, Eguchi Aikmi is no longer listed as a trainee on the AKB48 website... probably because she's too old at the age of 18.

Kato Sogen - The Oldest Trick In The Book

Here's the sad story of Kato Sogen (surname first), who wasn't even around when the story ended - or even when it began.

Born on July 22, 1899, Kato was thought to have been the oldest man alive in Tokyo - right up until July 2010… when he would have celebrated his 111th birthday.

In 2010 when Tokyo city officials wanted to meet Kato as part of the Respect For The Aged Day (敬老の日 Keirō no Hi) on the third Monday of September (this year, 2014, it's September 15), none of his relatives would let him be seen, saying he was akin to a 'human vegetable' or simply too sick.

Turns out he was dead… and had been since sometime in November 1978… when he was only 79 years old.

Seems like someone either had too much respect for the aged, or too much respect for Kato's pension cheque/check that someone had been cashing for nearly 32 years, taking in about ¥ 9.5-million (US $91,200)… which seems like a a real piddling amount of money to helps sustain anyone over that length of time had he been alive…

That would be about ¥296,875 a year…  that's US $2,850 a year!!!!

Makes one wonder who the real crooks are and on whom the hoax is being pulled on.

Fujimura Shinichi - Can You Dig It?

Is it better to be lucky than good?

Well, one Japanese amateur archaeologist seemed to think so. Fujimura Shinichi (藤村 新 and surname first) his discoveries helped push back the Japanese Paleolithic period by another 30,000 years…

Born in 1950, in Kami, Miyagi-ken, he was a high school graduate who worked in a manufacturing job, doing some prospecting for archaeological goods  on his holidays.

As an amateur digger, he did have legitimate success digging WITH OTHERS a paleolithic site in 1975, 1981, 1983 and 1984, finding stone tools thought to be 50,000 years old.   

But… then he got fame crazy.

Going on 180 digs across Japan, he kept finding artifacts that kept getting older and older and older… like a certain corpse in Tokyo.

His success garnered him a job as the deputy director of the non-government organization Tohoku Paleolithic Institute.

Suspicion did fall upon Fujimura as what he always seemed to find was much different from other pieces in the same area… his were always older. 

After Fujimura and his team announced on October 23, 2000 that he and his team found some stuff estimated to be 570,000-years-old at the Kamitakamori site near Tsukidate-machi in Miyagi-ken, everyone was amazed.

But… on November 5, 2000, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper published photos of Fujimura digging holes and burying the same artifacts that he and his team later found. The photos were taken one day before the objects were found (see the image in this part of the blog).

Fujimura admitted his deceit, saying he planted objects from his own collection so that the fresh sites would appear to be older.

In this last site, he apparently planted 61 of the 65 objects found there.

He says he also planted all the objects at the Soshin Fudozaka site in Hokkaido - saying these were the only two time he had ever done so.

A special investigation by the Japanese Archaeological Association later determined that almost everything he had found had been planted by Fujimura.

Except for the plants… the vegetation was always there.

Obokata Haruko - STAP the madness

Our first female (real) perpetrator on the list, and one from 2014 to boot!

Obokata Haruki (surname first) (小保方 晴子) is a mere waif of a lass… born on June 29, 1983 in Matsudo, Chiba-ken, Japan.

A smart cookie, Obokata was a stem-cell biologist and the leader of the Laboratory for Cellular Reprogramming at the RIKEN Center for Developing Biology, a research institute with over 3,000 scientists situated in seven campuses across Japan.

She is credited with designing STAP (Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency) cells - a new and easy way to grow any tissue in the body.

Sounds like something people would really be interested in! And it's easy to do, too?

After the research was published in Nature magazine (an excellent publication, by the way!), question arose to the veracity of her claims, as it seems as though no one else could reproduce her results.

Apparently, the images Obokata used in her published paper were the same ones she had used in her doctoral thesis in 2011 - for a completely different project. D'oh!

I guess she wasn't that smart after all.

According to the RIKEN investigators into this case (click HERE):

In manipulating the image data of two different gels and using data from two different experiments, Dr. Obokata acted in a manner that can by no means be permitted. This cannot be explained solely by her immaturity as a researcher. Given the poor quality of her laboratory notes it has become clearly evident that it will be extremely difficult for anyone else to accurately trace or understand her experiments, and this, too, is considered a serious obstacle to healthy information exchange. Dr. Obokata’s actions and sloppy data management lead us to the conclusion that she sorely lacks, not only a sense of research ethics, but also integrity and humility as a scientific researcher.

Stem cells, which was what STAP cells were supposed to create, are a real type of cell that is supposed to acts a repair system within the body… to help fix damaged tissue, as well as help regulate the creation of new blood, skin and intestinal tissues.

Yup, your guts regenerate - so perhaps one day Obokata will develop the intestinal fortitude to actually do some good in this world, rather than present false hope.

She's the worst Japanese hoaxer yet!  

But there's still one more Japanese hoax… but it involves an action, rather than a person per se.

Oculolinctus - Fuge'm If You Can't Lick'em

Lastly, here's a hoax that even I got in on… Oculolinctus… eyeball licking.

Now… for the record… when I wrote about this back on June 16, 2013 I did state this:

"I'm still not convinced of its veracity, but a newspaper - no less the UK's The Guardian - recently ran an article on the latest fetish or fad that is sweeping the nation like a bad case of STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases)."

See? Even when a known entity like The Guardian says something, I still question it.

I'm not saying I'm smarter than anyone, as I still wrote about it nonetheless, as though it was real.

What is it? Well, read about it HERE, and then come back:

So… it appears that the whole eyeball licking sex fad was based on a made-up story in a Japanese tabloid… you know, one of those newspapers or magazines that you are reluctant to place on the bottom of your birdcage in case it upsets the feng shui of the universe…

Now… it appears as though such eyeball licking did indeed come into vogue - just a little bit - as the increase in infections suddenly increased, as kids suddenly wanted to be cooler than cool and needed to do what everyone else was doing.

"You're all individuals!"
"I'm not!"

Yup - people - no one I know, of course, (because I'm not cool, which makes me cool, right?) but people started licking eyeballs... it became a fad... and all it took was one fake story and some publicity... the originally reported story, however, was still a hoax.

Anyhow… I wrote about all of the dangers of actually participating in such a fad, and urged people not to do it… because hoax or not, I knew it wasn't worth following.


And that's all I could find... real, genuine hoaxes perpetrated by the Japanese upon the public, both Japanese and global...

Andrew Joseph


  1. Wow, that STAP chick is the worst! I knew about the AKB48 one, though. Weird things in Japan...

    1. Japan is weird, then again, every country has its share of weirdness. But yes, the STAP woman is terrible... how can you think you are going to get away with something that can easily be checked for its validity?
      I'm also pretty disgusted by how little people get for a pension... granted it must be related to the type of work the old guy did when he was employed... Thank-you so much for writing and following on Twitter!