On 13 November, a tweet went out from Kyoko Shimbun which read “AAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Generally, such single-letter interjections don’t yield much of a response, but in this case they got over 400 retweets.

That’s because on this day, Kyoko Shimbun which translates to “Fabricated News” learnt that their fictional Infojar, a next-gen rice cooker with several smartphone capabilities, was in the research and development phase by the very company they were spoofing at the time, KDDI.

Fake Infojar

In the fake announcement published back in January of this year, Kyoko Shimbun explained that due to each of Japan’s major mobile providers now carrying the iPhone, KDDI’s brand au would have to find another niche to fill. So, they decided to enter the rice cooker market.

Luckily thanks to the effort of KDDI’s blue-sky think-tank, the “au Unlimited Future Laboratory (AUFL),” such a rice cooker has been in development for three years. The cooker was to be named Infojar, which is an obvious pun to au’s Infobar line of low-end yet stylish mobile phones.

The Infojar was to have a 7-inch HD LCD touchscreen (the world’s largest for a rice cooker), 3G and 4G LTE connectivity, GPS tracking and automatic lid locking (in case it’s lost), near field communication payment system, digital terrestrial broadcasting receiver, Android 4.4 OS, and a camera built on the inside which allows you to keep an eye on your rice or pancake without having to lift the lid.

In addition to the technical specs, there are a lot of luxury features as well like the ability to automatically post a message of “rice now” onto your Twitter feed for all your followers to see. In the ficitious article, KDDI felt that by bringing their mobile phone expertise to the rice cooker game, they could dominate the competition with the Infojar.

Real Infojar

Although its name sounds a little fanciful, the AUFL actually exists as a subsidiary organization of KDDI. They are working on various ways to revolutionize the smartphone culture both technologically and stylistically. Like all corporations should, they tell us what they are all about through the medium of anime. Here’s part one of three:

As one of the AUFL members who calls himself F writes on their website, while looking for inspiration on the next smartphone innovation, he stumbled across the Kyoko Shimbun article. Thinking “it might be interesting to actually make an Infojar” he approached his boss with the idea half-expecting a refusal. However, despite neither F nor his boss knowing what the Infojar would amount to, initial research was greenlit.

The Infojar’s description in Kyoko Shimbun was a little too ambitious though. As such, F decided to start with only a few specs, which he outlined on the AUFL website.

[Development Specs]

– 7-inch HD LCD touchscreen
– The ability to watch YouTube while cooking rice
– Programmability via smartphone
– Automatically post “Rice now” to user’s Twitter feed

With the project underway, Kyoko Shimbun took their disbelief to Twitter.


“I get it up to the ‘might be interesting’ part, but what boss would greenlight this?”

It should be noted that Infojar R&D is still in its extreme infancy and F, who is leading the project, is a part of the AUFL writing staff with no educational background in technology… as we can see from his diagrams.

However, if he pulls it off and KDDI breaks into the rice cooker market with the Infojar, which was initially conceived as a joke, it would show that quite often truth really is stranger than fiction.

Source: au Unlimited Future Laboratory, Kyoko Shimbun via Netlab (Japanese)
Infobar Images: Amazon 1, 2