Since 2007, artist Takao Sakai has been documenting a weird Japanese sub-culture of people who go out in public wearing odd beards inspired by the popular ingredient, Azuki bean. These bean beard wearing people are called ‘Azurers’, and Sakai has amassed hundreds of photos of them.
But here’s the twist: Sakai is actually the mastermind of it all! Dun-dun-dun! It’s all part of his ongoing series, ‘The Azurer Project’, a satirical take on ridiculous Japanese trends and how gullible the foreign media can be at times. He creates these beards himself and tries to project them as a fashion trend, even proudly proclaiming on his website:
‘Azurer, which began in Japan and spread worldwide, is a cutting-edge fashion style which consists of wearing a beard made out of azuki beans. Currently, there are 1,720,000 azurers in Japan, and the numbers internationally are growing as well’.
Sakai also says that if any foreign media picks this up and firmly believes it as a real Japanese trend, then he would have succeeded. I guess this is a trend that’s too weird to be true, even for Japan?