Pandas are loved around the world, but here in Japan the panda love is truly next level. Here, you can hop on a panda train, hail a panda taxi, or even enjoy special limited-edition sweets featuring the cute, furry black-and-white mammal.
So when reports of a panda sighting on the streets of Tokyo began emerging on social media on 2 March, it caused a frenzy, with people trying to figure out the animal’s location so they could catch sight of it themselves.
Our reporter K. Nagahashi was one of those people frantically typing and tweeting on his phone, but even after checking news sites for more information, there were no reports of escaped pandas to be found.
Searching further online, he found that the panda was hanging out at Komazawa Olympic Park, located across Tokyo’s Setagaya and Meguro wards, so he made a mad dash to the park in the hopes of seeing the panda before it scampered away.
Sure enough, when he arrived, he saw a group of people huddled together, with many of them holding their phones out in front of them.
▼ Walking closer, he could see something furry in the middle of the crowd…
▼ There it was!
▼ A panda!
Nagahashi looked about, wondering why everyone looked so calm and nobody was on the phone to the police. Surely children aren’t allowed to be this close to a wild animal?
Nagahashi got closer himself, and when he saw people petting the panda, he couldn’t believe his eyes. As it turns out, this panda was an Oreo Panda. A very rare and unique species, and one that may soon be coming to a neighbourhood near you.
The panda’s appearance was all part of a new “Isshoni Asobo” (“Let’s play together”) campaign by the famous Oreo cookie brand. They’ve enlisted the panda – whose black-and-white colours match up with that of an Oreo – to be the star of a new promotional campaign, drawing attention to the brand and offering samples to people around the country.
▼ The panda even stars in its own set of commercials.
It’s a clever way to get people talking about your brand, particularly now that Japan’s Oreos are being produced in China after Nabisco’s corporate owner moved production there from Japan in 2016.
If you’d like to find out where the panda will be next, be sure to visit the campaign website, and remember – a meeting with the Oreo bear comes with a free Oreo too!