Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The ancient art of looking like a jackass

A terrific posting on The Nonist about Chindōgu!

Chindōgu (literally translated "dogu" means tool, and "chin" means weird or unusual, not to be confused with the other "chin" in Japanese which means penis, thereby making the word redundant) is the not-so-ancient 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. Thus, Chindōgu are sometimes described as 'unuseless' - that is, they cannot be regarded as 'useless' in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called 'useful'.

You following me here? OK. Let's look at some examples then. These all come from a truly remarkable book called 101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindōgu by Kenji Kawakami.

There's the hay fever hat.

The solar-powered lighter.

The 360 degree panoramic camera.

The backscratcher's T-shirt.
(See, the idea here is you have an itch and you say to your friend "Hey Phil, how bout scratching me in E7?" It's like back-scratcher bingo.)

And my personal favorite... the noodle-eater's hair guard!

The chronicling of Chindōgu has now led to the
International Chindōgu Society.

Click here for a wonderful interactive website about
the many crazy inventions of Chindōgu!


Anonymous Lilly said...

I've had that book for about 10 years now. I never loaned that to you?! It's phenomenal, I agree.

5/28/2006 12:19 AM


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