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Chindogu are inventions that defy concise explanation. They aren't useful. But they aren't completely useless either. Their creator, Kenji Kawakami, describes them as "un-useless. There's an essence to chindogu that can't be ignored. They need to be useful, but only just so. Something people could use, but probably won't because of shame. How can we distinguish real chindogu from the imitators?

The device must adhere to the 10 tenets of chindogu set up by inventor Kenji Kawakami and the International Chindogu Society. Check out the society's official website for their wording of the tenets which is sometimes unclear. This is our interpretation of the laws.

This is the utmost tenet. If your invention is a real help and you use it all the time, it's not chindogu. Try selling it to the public because it could be worth millions. Too bad it has no soul. Chindogu have to be made. If you design the invention on paper and don't make it, it doesn't qualify. It's a piece of paper with a bad invention on it. Bring the invention into the physical world so humankind can experience how truly almost useless it is.

Chindogu are free to be what they need to be. Normal devices are designed for efficiency, ease of use, and utility. If you create a device that is only recognized as useless by people with certain knowledge sets doctors, mechanics, biologists, etc. For example, if you make a useless invention intended to help with space shuttle operations, it would take a rocket scientist to distinguish it from useful space tools.

Normal people must be able to recognize the uselessness immediately. Any humor derived from chindogu is a side effect. The invention must earnestly try and solve a problem. The roundabout and unconventional way it solves the problem is the source of the humor. They are made to be used, even though they are almost useless.

They are not, in and of themselves, a statement for any cause or philosophy. Chindogu inventions cannot be made to enact or represent cheap sexual innuendo, vulgar humor, or sick jokes that disrespect living things. The invention must remain in the public domain. It must be free to use, re-create, and distribute. It cannot be copyrighted or owned.

Chindogu view all human beings as equal. Therefore, they can't favor a race, religion, age group, gender, or class. With the 10 tenets fixed firmly in your heart, let's look at some examples of chindogu. From these you'll be able to clearly see each one at work. The butter stick is possibly the most well-known chindogu. Maybe because it's the one people could actually see themselves using almost.

When you don't have a knife or the time to butter toast, the Butter Stick is there for you. I wonder what other condiments could work in stick form…. When you can't choose the best camera angle, choose them all. This invention is designed to create panoramic photos. Strap the Camera Hat to your head and snap the pictures.

Get the pictures developed, tape them end-to-end in a circle, and stick your head inside. Sometimes ramen and udon 1 are just too hot. That's why you slurp. But maybe that's not enough to keep the noodles from burning thy lips.

Enter the noodle cooler. An electric fan cools your noodles before they get close to scalding your mouth. Getting the broom out of the closet for a small bit of dust is a real pain. And bending down to use a handheld broom can be difficult for the elderly and obese. That's when you slip these babies on. Use one foot to sweep and the other to collect. But then, how do you get your dustpan foot up to the trash can?

Get the perfect lipstick application every time. Just strap on the lip stencil and go to town. This speeds up the lipstick process a lot. No more slow precision. Smear the lipstick all over the place and you're done. Stop letting dangerous waters pour all over your expensive shoes. This invention protects those Guccis and Air Jordans from inclement weather. Plus you don't have to worry about wet socks, which is the worst thing about rain. Whether you're in the splash zone at Sea World or a kitsune wedding , there are times you want to get wet and take pictures.

This invention was made for such occasions. A tiny umbrella for your camera. Just don't drop it in the Lazy River. Slip on this chindogu shirt and use the accompanying chart to identify the itchy area. Your scratch companion now knows the exact square to attack. You get a sneeze attack on a crowded bus!

No problem. Reach up, pull down, and cover that sneeze. Sometimes your eyes need drops. You could hover the eyedropper above your peepers and hope for the best.

But we know how that ends. And you can't be wasting eye medicine like that. Not in today's economy. Good thing you've got Eyedrop Funnel Glasses. There's nothing lazier than babies and cats. Both need food and shelter, but offer nothing in return. Time to turn the tables on these miniature hobos. You can actually buy the baby mop. Because chindogu by nature cannot be patented tenet number 9 , anyone can produce them.

The unprincipled charlatans over at BetterThanPants sell a version of Kawakami's baby mop. What is a toothbrush anyway? Some bristles on a stick. And what is your finger but a fleshy stick with bone in the middle? Why not cut out the stick middleman and just attach the bristles to your finger? You've just entered a whole new level of hamigaki.

Of all the chindogu inventions listed here, this is the one I could most see myself using. I hate getting onion pain in my eyes. It's the worst. Your eyes get watery, your vision gets blurry, and before you know it, you've chopped off a finger. But you can chop onions pain free with this inventions. Little fans on either side of the glasses blow the onion fumes away from your eyes.

The glasses themselves probably protect a little bit too. Eating ramen too fast will invariably get broth all over your precious, precious locks. Enter the Noodle Splash Guard, the invention that guards your hair from ramen or udon splash. Now you can eat with gusto!


101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions

The term was coined by Kenji Kawakami. Kenji was a former editor and contributor to the Japanese home-shopping magazine "Mail Order Life. The special category of inventions then be familiarized by Japanese people. Dan Papia then introduced it to the English-speaking world and popularized it as a monthly feature in his magazine, Tokyo Journal , encouraging readers to send in ideas. Most classic chindogu products are collected in the book. Many examples got a sense of humor in the way they have been used.


101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu.

Chindogu is the Japanese word coined for the art of the unuseless idea -- weirdly logical designs for living that have taken an unsuspecting world by storm. Meant to solve the niggling problems of modern life, these bizarre and logic-defying gadgets and gizmos have a tendency to fail completely -- but also heroically, magnificently, and hilariously. Addicts of the unuseless will love this collection of brand-new Chindogu, including the Eat 'n' Exercise no one cares about calories when you exercise as you eat , the Drymobile your laundry dries as you drive , the Solar-Powered Torch, and many, many more Funny but subversive. Ordinary but surreal. Brilliant but boneheaded Once word gets around, stand back".



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