By Sam Reeve
If you’re already familiar with the lolwut goldmine that is Chindogu, then bless your heart. I, of course, have been too busy saving babies from fires and helping the elderly, so I only stumbled across this Japanese art form just now.
Wikipedia describes Chindogu as “the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, chindōgu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever”.
A wonderful description, though the concept of Chindogu is best conveyed visually:
The hair noodle guard, meant to protect your long hair while eating food (that could potentially mess it up), actually makes your face look like it’s emerging from a butt.
Now we’ve obviously all seen stupid inventions before, whether in real life (I’m looking at you, banana guard) or on the internet/tv, but rarely do they size up in ridiculousness to Chindogu inventions. Why not? Because this is actually an art form governed by 10 tenets and those who practice Chindogu take it pretty seriously.
The 10 Chindogu tenets (follow this link to see full list) include that humour must not be the sole reason for creating a Chindogu, a Chindogu can’t be patented or sold (it’s done for fun/therapy/the hell of it and not for profit), and Chindogu are without prejudice (could be enjoyed by people of all races, rich or poor).
The most famous Chindogu inventor, and inventor of Chindogu itself, is Kenji Kawakami.
Mr. Kawakami, who studied aeronautical engineering, started dreaming up these oh-so-unfabulous inventions in the 80’s while working for a home shopping magazine.
A bit of a radical, he describes Chindogu as being “a rejection of the strait jacket of capitalistic utility, an anarchic antithesis to 21st-century consumer culture that can enrich people’s lives and bring them closer together”.
Besides being a creative outlet, Chindogu has been therapeutic for many practitioners because there is no stress in inventing something that will never be sold or actually used, and it’s just funny as hell when you look at these things.
And now, because if you’ve managed to read this far I know you’re dying to see more, are my favourite Chindogu creations:
Bathsuit – So you can enjoy the warmth and comfort of a bath without the wetness.
Portable Zebra Crossing – If jaywalking is an issue for you.
Personal Rain Collector
Solar Powered Cigarette Lighter – for all you smokers/alternative energy freaks out there
I’m pretty sure for my next birthday I want to hang out with April Winchell while we play with all of these inventions. Now you all know what to get me.