Welcome to the weekend, my friends. I wasn’t sure there would be a Saturday Surprise this week, for I’m not in the best of humour, but I skipped Jolly Monday, and really didn’t want to let you down again this week. Still, I was debating … cute animals? A journey somewhere? And then I hit on something totally unique and it fascinated me, so I’m hoping you will enjoy it.
It’s called Chindōgu, and it is the Japanese art of useless inventions! Literally translated, chindōgu means unusual (珍 chin) tool (道具 dōgu). Kenji Kawakami coined the term chindōgu. According to a 2001 article in Japan Times, Kawakami, now age 72, has made over 600 chindogu since he began inventing. Yet he doesn’t own any patents and has never made a single yen by selling his creations …
“I despise materialism and how everything is turned into a commodity. Things that should belong to everyone are patented and turned into private property. I’ve never registered a patent and I never will because the world of patents is dirty, full of greed and competition.”
Despite the seemingly universal appeal for his inventions and their purpose to amuse, Kawakami laments that sometimes he is not taken seriously.
“In Europe they treat me as an artist. In Australia and Canada, I’m called a scientist. In China and Hong they wonder why I don’t try to make money from my inventions. But in Japan and the US, they consider me a maker of party goods.”
There are ten commandments of chindōgu:
- A Chindōgu cannot be for real use — They must be, from a practical point of view, (almost) completely useless. “If you invent something which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindōgu,” it says.
- A Chindōgu must exist — A Chindōgu must be something that you can actually hold, even if you aren’t going to use it.
- There must be the spirit of anarchy — A chindōgu must be an object that have broken free from the chains of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action.
- Chindōgu are tools for everyday life — Chindōgu must be useful (or useless) to everyone around the world for everyday life.
- Chindōgu are not for sale — Chindōgu cannot be sold. “If you accept money for one, you surrender your purity,” it says.
- Humor must be the sole reason for creating a chindōgu — The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Humor is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem.
- Chindōgu is not propaganda — Chindōgu should be innocent. They should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.
- Chindōgu are never taboo — Chindōgu must adhere to society’s basic standards.
- Chindōgu cannot be patented — Chindōgu cannot be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned.
- Chindōgu are without prejudice — Everyone should have an equal chance to enjoy every Chindōgu.
Let’s take a look at some, shall we?
How convenient … let your baby clean the floor while he’s learning to crawl! Put ‘em to work early!
Or, if you prefer, let the cat clean the floor. That cat looks none too happy, though.
How cool! Everything you need, literally right at your fingertips!
Now this one is really pretty clever, albeit perhaps a bit bulky … a small fan attached to chopsticks to cool the noodles on the way to your mouth!
Because you just never know when you’re going to run into a slice of unbuttered toast, right? My luck, I would get it confused with my chapstick.
And after you ate that slice of buttered toast, well of course you’ll be wanting to brush.
For those times when just a few tissues stuffed into your pockets simply aren’t enough.
Awww, now isn’t that cute … a little umbrella for when that perfect photo op comes along on a rainy day!
And since you wouldn’t want to get your feet wet while lining up that photo op …
Now who doesn’t need a case for their banana?
For those times when either, a) you’re bored/stressed and need something to do with your hands, or b) you just want to annoy the heck out of someone.
Now this is one I can see being useful! More than once I have had to have a fingertip sewn back on because I took my eye off the ball … er, knife!
Zippo ran out of fluid? Bic just won’t flick? No worries … this amazing sun-lighter will magnify the sun’s rays and presto, your smoke is lit. Well, actually it may take a long time if it isn’t a particularly hot and sunny day. Still …
What could be more convenient than having everything you need stored in the back of your ties? Um … pockets?
Well, I hope you enjoyed some of these fun, un-useless inventions! Now off with you … go have a wonderful, fun weekend!