Actress Maiko Kawakami Roasted Over Sheep-Dog Incident

LambYet another “Only in Japan” story, but we just had to delve deeper into this one! According to many of the foreign press outlets this week, hundreds, possibly thousands of Japanese women have been conned into buying baby lambs, which they thought were in fact poodles. Coming from a background where an annual highlight is Christmas lamb, this story tested my limits. But this is Tokyo, and anything is possible.

This astonishing discovery was made on prime time TV, where actress Maiko Kawakami (川上麻衣子) was proudly showing off pictures of her new pet poodle. When she wondered out loud why her short-cut, cute new puppy would neither bark, nor eat dog food, members of the panel amusingly pointed out that it was perhaps not a puppy, but in fact a common sheep! According to the reports, the police subsequently fielded thousands of calls from distressed women, who suddenly realized that their dogs “bark” only made it to “ba…”

Poodle in rubbish bagOnce my ribcage recovered from the hilarity and bizarreness of this supposed situation, I got on to scouring the Japanese news sites to verify this, because could it really be true? I could not find a single reference in the Japanese news. And no, it was not April 1st, but fool on anyone who throws a poodle in the pot for Christmas.

The only evidence exists at the source. Maiko Kawakami writes a daily diary on her website, the entry is here, which contains one line, nonchalantly saying “I have had emails from people who have also heard of toy poodles which have actually turned out to be lambs. But they have not heard what happened to them since, which is worrying.” A single comment on her blog states that this incident was shown on CNN News, but they stressed that this was only “something that Kawakami had heard about”.

Kawakami Maiko  youngA search for images of “toy poodle” brought up pictures of many breeds of dog, a couple of rabbits, kittens, and even a budgy, but alas, no sheep. Despite this though, the Japanese authorities have reported to the foreign press that they have shut down at least one company, which has imported from Australia and sold over 2,000 lambs as poodles, for over 150,000 yen each. This is about half the cost of a purebred non-sheep poodle in Japan.

Maiko Kawakami, born in Sweden, is now 41. Her first hit drama series in 1979 was called Kizuna, and then the high school drama”3-nen B-kumi- Kinpachi Sensei”, which is still shown on reruns 28 years later. Then, 4 years later, at 17, she was launched further into stardom appearing in a provocative “photographic essay” called “Atsui Kuni, Yume no Kuni, Umareta Kuni” (A hot country, a country of dreams, the country I was born”), shot by the well-known photographer Kishin Shinoyama.

These days, Kawakami is a famous actress, appearing often on TV talk shows, as well as a number of Japanese movies and drama series per year, including the current Usuwashiki-Oni drama series.


Despite the popularity of Usuwashiki-Oni, we were not so surprised that the Japanese media decided that one of the main stars having the wool pulled over their eyes in such a fashion was not worth mentioning. No doubt Kawakami will be sheepish in returning to prime time TV…

We would love to hear from anyone who actually saw this on TV. Please leave your comments below! By the way, the “Urban Legends” site has classed this story as FALSE, but lets not let that get in the way of a good yarn…!

14 thoughts on “Actress Maiko Kawakami Roasted Over Sheep-Dog Incident”

  1. Apparently Snopes has already commented on the alleged poodle/sheep scam:

    According to Snopes, the story is pure fiction.

    Also, it appears that the kanji in the show title is “Uruwashiki Oni” (麗しいき鬼) rather than “Usuwashiki Oni.”  Perhaps there is another pronunciation of 麗しい?

  2. Incredibly the Aussie media jumped on the bandwagon and this story was in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday. That says a lot about the SMH I’d say. Lots of laughs round the office about it as there is just that “only in japan” potential to it. That story said it was all happening up in Sapporo, which happens to be farm capital of Japan where there are more sheep than anywhere else in Japan, so it definitely sounded too daft to be true.

  3. This one I believe. Here we have some investigative journalism.

    The Urban Legend blog is just rubbish that does no research:

  4. I was sent this story by email from one of my workmates and instantly took it as pure bullsh*t, but funny all the same. I got a call from my mum the same day who had mentioned that it had been on TV in Australia. (deep sigh)

    Have people completely lost common sense? Are we doomed to believe everything that mainstream media feeds us to be true?

  5. Guess it took the attachment of a celebrity’s name to launch this urban legend to truly legendary status.

    I heard the story several years ago from my father-in-law, though it involved the sister of his cousin’s friend (or something like that). It may have already been quite old by that time, as my wife said he’d told the story countless times. Who knows where or when it first got started…

    One thing’s for sure: even being exposed for being false, the legend will go on.

  6. Well, I happen to think that this is a scam/publicity stunt, although I did laugh my head off when my husband told me of it this morning. I’ve spent about an hour or so now online, reasearching this…and from all I’ve found, it’s complete cr*p. Someone’s baaaaaaaad idea of a joke.

    I do have to admit that after I was finished wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes, it occurred to me that if this were to be true, if the people who were reported to purchase these “poodles” are the same people that are building WMD’s, then we have absolutely NOTHING to fear ;o)

  7. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid poeple can be. The worst part of this is is not this story from THE SUN (we all know how they work), but rather how other media outlets actually reported this as news without checking facts!! Noting the source alone should have set off very large bells. Lord people are dumb.

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