Japanese website Azurer is dedicated to street portraits of people who wear the sticky candy-like beards made out of adzuki beans proudly on their face. The site text helpfully explains “Azura population of Japan is said to be 1.72 million people estimated. Azura has spread rapidly around the world”. We know the Japanese have a huge appetite for craziness, so if anyone is wearing beards made out of adzuki beans, it must be them… right?

Well, yes and no. While about 500 of these so-called street portraits appear on the site, lending legitimacy to the beard-wearing phenomenon, these are all posed pictures. The mastermind behind it all is artist Takao Sakai, who even makes the beards personally himself (for the curious, he boils the beans before moulding them into wacky shapes).

The idea is to pass off the fictitious movement as a real-life one. “If some media outside of Japan would mistakenly think that this is really fashion and would report it as news, then I would have succeeded,” he said of the project to Tokyo-based online design magazine PingMag in 2008. Coincidentally, Azurer is hardly the first time Sakai is using azuki beans as an art medium. He has also recreated the Darth Vader helmet, the Batman mask and even a pingpong racket from the red beans.

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