Chindogu Mania


When I was in the hospital, my cousin Chickoy lent me his chindogu book, 99 More Unuseless Japanese Inventions by Kenji Kawakami (book #139 for 2009) to keep my mind off blood tests and platelet counts. And it worked, too, as the book kept me plenty entertained for a whole afternoon.

I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese ingenuity — I love going to the Japanese one price stores (here we have Saizen and Japan Home Center) to blow my money on all sorts of things, from plastic boxes with multiple compartments, gashapon display cases, nylon book cases, clip-on reading lamps, wrapping paper, pet toys, shoe racks, felt crafting materials, beanie pillows, bamboo mats, and all sorts of stuff I don’t really need but are fun to buy and convenient to have around!

Anyway, chindogu is the term for Japanese inventions for everyday gadgets to provide solutions for common problems. Chindogu has a distinctive characteristic, however, as the solution it presents causes even more problems, i.e. embarassment, unwieldiness, etc. They are not totally useless, just problematic, hence the term “unuseless.”

It’s more entertaining to look at the photos than listen to me going on and on about them, so here are some “ingenious” inventions from the book:

Portable armrests! Now your arms can relax even when you’re outdoors.

Carry-all apron. Have all your cooking implements within easy reach!

The lip stencil — perfect lips every time!

and if that lip stencil isn’t working for you, try the lip stamp!

The hold-it helmet — for hands-free reading!

The solution to my fear of getting dengue fever again.

Now wasn’t that fun? My nurse was wondering why I was laughing so hard.

I have to return the book to Chickoy, so will definitely keep my eyes peeled for my own copy. There are other books in the series too, I’ll definitely want those as well.


My copy: trade paperback, borrowed from Chickoy

My rating: 5/5 stars for sheer entertainment value

5 thoughts on “Chindogu Mania”

  1. That’s weird. Japan is the most advanced in technology but it’s surprising to see stuff like these coming from them too. I haven’t entered yet any of the Japanese stores here though.

  2. @Patrick – they’ll invent anything! :) Try going to Saizen at Galleria. I think it’s impossible for anyone to go there and not buy anything!

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