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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 20, 2021

No, this photo doesn’t show a woman scanning a QR code on a Japanese headstone

If Your Time is short

  • This photo shows a woman scanning a QR code at a memorial in China, but QR codes for headstones have been offered in Japan. 

An image of a woman scanning a QR code of what looks like a headstone is being shared on social media as an illustration of "technology after death in Japan." 

"There are graves in Japan equipped with QR code, which on scanning shows you pictures, information and a brief biography of the life of the dead," the post says. 

It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

That’s because, as India Today reported on Sept. 15, the photo doesn’t show a Japanese headstone. The image has been online since 2015, when Chinese media reported that it showed a woman in Chongqing, China, scanning a memorial to commemorate victims of the Nanjing Massacre and bombing raids in Chongqing during World War II. 

But QR codes on Japanese headstones aren’t fantasy. 

Featured Fact-check

After QR codes debuted in the Japanese market in 1994, Pacific Standard reported, they started appearing on tombstones in 2008.

"The codes serve multiple purposes," the since-shuttered publication said. "When scanned, they lead to a website with photos and information about the deceased and allow for users to give virtual gifts, like food, incense, or a Buddhist funeral chant." 

Other news outlets, like the Guardian, Wired and the Atlantic, have also reported on the technological twist on honoring the dead in Japan. 

But this photo doesn’t show that. We rate claims that it does False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, Sept. 14, 2021

India Today, Fact check: Is this a QR-enabled graveyard in Japan?, Sept. 15, 2021

China Daily, Online memorial dedicated to WWII victims, April 1, 2015, Scanning QR code to commemorate massacre victims, April 1, 2015, Online memorial dedicated to WWII victims, April 1, 2015

Britannica, Nanjing Massacre, visited Sept. 20, 2021

McClatchy, In Chongqing, scars of WWII are still visible — on people’s faces, Sept. 2, 2015

Pacific Standard, The way we mourn now, June 14, 2017

The Guardian, In Japan, you can get a barcode for your tomb, April 5, 2008

Wired, Japanese gravestone memorialize the dead with QR codes, March 23, 2008

The Atlantic, QR codes for the dead, May 21, 2014


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No, this photo doesn’t show a woman scanning a QR code on a Japanese headstone

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