Writing about Japan is often an instructive process in how gullible Western media can be in lapping up Oriental stories - such as the one about the dogs that were sheep - that are obviously fake.

That's exactly what we thought we had when tales of internet-enabled gravestones in Japan started popping up all over the English-speaking web this morning. However - and here's the really strange bit - it turns out to be true.

Barcoded graves

Headstone maker Ishinokoe has announced its intention to sell ¥1 million (£5,000) granite grave markers with customised QR codes. The 2D barcodes are supposed to be scanned with a mobile phone camera to yield a URL that leads to a memorial website for the deceased person.

Apparently, families will be able to add photographs and other mementoes to the mobile website so that they can better remember their loved ones. Quite why Ishinokoe chose to launch the product on 1 April is anyone's guess, unless...