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How Fargo's Fake Treasure Created A Bizarre Urban Legend

Takako Konishi is believed to have died in search of a treasure that doesn't exist, but True Fiction explores the truth of her story, which is altogether sadder.


True Fiction is a series that digs into the truth behind the fiction to find how they relate to each other. This episode focuses on the 1996 movie Fargo, and the impact it is believed to have had on a Japanese woman called Takako Konishi. Legend has it that Konishi traveled to Fargo in search of a treasure shown in the film, tricked by an assertion from its directors that all the events depicted were real. The truth, however, is that this is simply an urban legend.

In digging into the urban legend it becomes clear that the real story behind Konishi and her journey is something altogether sadder. Konishi died far from home, and though spurious rumors say the reason for her untimely demise was a ludicrous chase for fictional riches, the truth is a human story of heartbreak.

We asked True Fiction writer and presenter, our very own Kurt Indovina, to talk about the process of making this episode, and what it was like to learn the truth behind the fiction. You can also watch the episode below.

For more True Fiction, head over to the YouTube playlist, where you'll find episodes on Twin Peaks, Jackie Chan, Star Wars, and more.

Kurt: The crux of True Fiction has always been to explore the untold stories that have inspired the fiction we know and love. But for this episode, it’s quite the opposite. This time around, it's a story of fiction that led to a grave reality. Except, that’s only half the story.

You may have heard about the urban legend of the Japanese woman, Takako Konishi, who saw the 1996 noir comedy Fargo and believed the whole thing to be true. Granted, it does say it's a true story, but we all know that's a lie intentionally placed in by the directors to heighten the drama. Takako, however, was said to have really believed it and, as a result, traveled all the way to the United States to find the treasure that Steve Buscemi's character buried in the snow. In the process, she lost her life.

On True Fiction we've covered a wide range of real and saddening stories, whether it's an unsolved murder from over a century ago, or how one despicable man can forever distort the views of clowns--it's never an easy task unraveling the facts that led to the fiction. The difference between Takako's story and everything else covered on this show, however, is that the reality behind what happened to Takako devastatingly sad.

It's in this twist, that unlike other episodes, Takako's story had a harder impact on me. Of course, it isn't always easy swallowing the truth of people's real demise, especially when it's turned into entertainment. But for Takako, it was as though people's imagination instead stretched, mangled, and sensationalized her tale, and in that process, no one stopped to look a little deeper. It's harrowing, surely. And while I'm sure those who crossed Takako's path had nothing but their best intention, it's hard not to imagine the regret that followed the discovery of her body.

Takako's case is a poignant example of how we can almost instinctively fabricate a story into something it's not, purely for the spectacle of it all. There's no denying we all revel in a good story.

I hope you enjoy this episode of True Fiction, as it was a lot to swallow at times, but I think the reality of Takako's story is more important than the urban legend she became.

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