Traditional & Culture

April Fool’s Day in Japan: 10 Memorable Pranks From April 1, 2024

April Fool’s Day in Japan is a real wild card, and you never know exactly what to expect. Check out some of the best and worst April Fool’s pranks from Japan this year!

April Fool’s Day has been around in one form or another across the English-speaking world and parts of Europe for hundreds of years, but in Japan, the tradition of pranks and deception on April 1st has only become popular in recent years, with corporate advertising on the forefront of April Fool’s adoption. While the more recent arrival of the holiday in Japan means that not everyone around the country seems to quite be on board with the unusual traditions, Japanese social media is just as packed with April Fool’s posts on April 1st as anywhere else. Check out a few of the most entertaining and mystifying April Fool’s “pranks” from Japan in 2024.

The Inexplicable

If you’ve spent enough time on the internet, you might have some idea of Japan’s unique sense of humor, which often takes turns that foreign audiences have a hard time grasping. Of course, when a joke-focused holiday rolls around, that strange comedic streak really shines. This year, Sony Xperia’s April Fool’s post took the form of a major announcement that they hoped their customers would take kindly: the N and Y in the SONY logo would officially be getting a slight downgrade.

Over in the world of Sanrio’s cute characters, the official Cinnamoroll account freaked people out by inferring that the cute puppy character and his whole puppy crew would be getting a makeover and a whole new art style, with frankly eerie eyes that look like glass marbles.

On the account of the bear cub mascot character F-tan, a character connected with Japan’s popular baseball team the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, the normally cutesy little bear pulled a similar move and took on a serious new look. F-tan then made the statement “I eat rivals.” The fish in his mouth is in fact another mascot character for the same team.

Some smaller organizations got in on the fun too, like the tanuki (raccoon dog) rehabilitation center who claimed that one of their rescues had been officially named “Miss Roast Sweet Potato,” and made an official sweet potato ambassador.

But in the end, many of the pranks found around Japan are just little pun, like this one from the Japanese Postal Service. One of their most popular services is their Yu-Pack parcel delivery, so it only makes sense for them to offer a Yu-Pack… for your face, which promises “to moisture to your skin… express.” (The pun works a little better in Japanese, forgive us.) Very nice, postal workers.

Obviously Just Testing the Waters

As with other parts of the world, Japan has seen a rash of April Fool’s product proposals that seem a little too… realistic to really count as a prank. After the stunning success of the fake-turned-real Kinoko no Yama (Chocoroom) wireless earphones that sold out in under ten minutes, companies have unfortunately caught on to the low-risk high-reward concept of introducing an unlikely new product as a “prank.” Examples include the “Tsuratan” rice crackers from the makers of popular cracker brand Happitan (sometimes written Happy Turn in English). The joke here is that these crackers are supposedly extra spicy, and Tsuratan is a silly Japanese slang word for difficult or painful… but is it really so unlikely that they’ve been thinking about releasing a spicy version of the salty-sweet crackers?

Another example of this strange trend comes from KFC, which first made an announcement saying they would be offering customers a chance to pile as much chicken as they could into a bucket for the incredibly low flat price of 401 yen (approximately 2.65 USD). Within six hours, the brand came back saying that thanks to the positive feedback given on the original post, they would seriously consider offering all-you-can-stuff buckets in the future.

Unappetizing Creations

Gross-outs and weird food creations are an April Fool’s classic, and this year there were certainly a few to go around. Baskin Robbins (an American ice cream brand that has seen inexplicable success and popularity in Japan) started out strong with their mildly revolting takoyaki-flavored ice cream, supposedly using Osaka’s famous octopus balls as inspiration for the perfect round scoop of ice cream. The flavor supposedly comes with a ripple of sweet and spicy takoyaki sauce and accents of green onion and pickled ginger. No word on whether or not this fake ice cream includes octopus bits or not.

While the hotpot specialists at Ebara Foods seemed think “wouldn’t it be hilarious if our small hotpot flavoring packs were just really really big?” and went ahead and dreamed up a bucket-sized version that would provide enough flavor for 1,000 servings of hotpot, McDonalds Japan at least thought up a pun for their April Fool’s offering – a supremely unappealing fake “Makku-nouchi” bento box full of cold McDonalds delicacies.

In Japan, McDonalds is generally nicknamed “Makku,” while “makunouchi” is a classic variety of bento box. At least they tried.

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