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Pancake Bunny iis a nickname given to Oolong, a Japanese rabbit who was trained by his owner Hironori Akutagawa to balance objects on his head. Following its initial rise to internet fame in Japan through Akutagawa’s daily photo blog, pictures of Oolong eventually spread across the English-speaking web with the dismissive caption “I have no idea what you’re talking about, so here’s a bunny with a pancake on its head.”
Oolong the rabbit was born on July 28th, 1994 in Hokkaido, Japan. Oolong’s owner, Hironori Akutagawa, began posting photos of the rabbit on his personal website in 1998. The first photo of Oolong balancing an object on his head was posted on May 24th, 1999, with one film canister (shown below, left). Oolong did not balance a pancake on his head (shown below, right) until February 12th, 2000.
Over the course of Oolong’s life, Akutagawa took hundreds of photographs of the rabbit balancing a wide variety of small, light objects on its head, which he called “head performance.” Despite Oolong’s death on January 7th, 2003, Akutagawa continued to update the homepage through September 23rd, 2003, when he posted the negatives of the final photos taken of Oolong, balancing ice on his head.
On August 8th, 2001, a thread linking to Oolong’s homepage was posted on the DVD Talk forums, resulting in fifteen pages of user discussion about the rabbit’s photos. On the 17th, Akutagawa left an English message on the site to make it clear that these “head performances” were not animal abuse, noting that he was surprised by the amount of traffic the site was receiving. The next month, the now-defunct Japanese culture blog Syberpunkcreated the first English language page dedicated to Oolong’s photos, which drove 150,00 hits to Akutagawa’s blog within the first week.
In July 2002, a definition entry for the rabbit was added to the online writing community Everything2 and the next year, Oolong’s page was mentioned in a New York Times article about the rising trend of photo bloggers. By 2003, the dismissive phrase “so here’s a picture of a bunny with a pancake on his head” began appearing with photos of Oolong, which have been used on discussion forums and image boards to denote confusion, as in “that was nonsense what you just said there, so here is some more nonsense.” The phrase was later used by American humor magazine Mental Floss as the title of an article about the rabbit’s life. Photos of Oolong have also been featured on the Telegraph, Urlesque and Metro. In early 2010, two Facebook fan pages were created for the rabbit, with approximately 3500 likes between them as of October 2012.
On August 13th, 2008, artist Dan Lacey sold an oil painting of Oolong (shown below, right) via eBay. Four days later, he created a painting of politician Al Franken (shown below, center) with a pancake on his head in ode to Oolong. Over the next two years, Lacy became known as “the painter of pancakes,” creating a variety of paintings of celebrities and politicians with pancakes on their heads including Oprah (shown below, left), Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain.
The New York Times – ART/ARCHITECTURE; Prospecting for Gold Among the Photo Blogs
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