06 November 2005

Chindogu: "Weird Tools"

A long time ago I heard on the radio about the concept of chindogu, which the speaker explained was a Japanese word for not-very-useful inventions. Quite naturally I forgot this word but thanks to Cheshire Cat, my memory has been jogged. What are chindogu? They are humorous parodies of ingenuity, examples of technology that are patently absurd. Examples include:
  1. Back Scratcher's T-Shirt: The friend (or partner) who offers to scratch your back is a friend (or partner) indeed. Except it all goes horribly wrong when they just can't seem to locate the maddening itch. For those who are fed up of saying, 'left a bit... up a bit... right a bit... damn!' comes a very special T-shirt, complete with Battleships style, itch-locater grid. The scratchee is also equipped with a hand-held miniature corresponding grid-map, for accurate communication. So when the scratcher says, 'I'm scratching F5, ' the scratchee can say, 'try G7'.


  2. Commuter's Helmet: "the Commuter's Helmet sports a message to fellow travellers, reading, 'I'm having a short nap. Could you please wake me up when I reach the stop printed below. Many Thanks.' But since it depends entirely on the co-operation of fellow passengers for success, this Chindogu has also been designed to maximize their finer communal instincts and sense of goodwill. The suction pad on the back of the helmet keeps the head firmly in place, thus preventing the sleeper's head from lolling intrusively on the shoulders or laps of his or her neighbours. This courtesy will no doubt be appreciated, and the reciprocal favour of a timely awakening is more likely to be achieved."
  3. The Hay Fever Hat (a headband that supports a toilet paper roll, with the paper falling forward over the sufferer's face); this ensures that the wearer is unlikely to run out of facial tissue. (Hattip: Chindogu)
  4. (My Hands-Down Favorite) 10-in-1 Super Gardening Tool, an enormous Swiss-Army knife featuring a shovel, a rake, a set of pruing shears, and so on. The photo of a little Japanese oo-baa-san gardening with a shovel as big as herself, is hilariarious. (same source as above)

Some other links about chindogu:
  1. a history of useless inventions (design boom)
  2. chindogu (Wikipedia)
  3. The International Chindogu Society
  4. Chindogu for the Masses
  5. The Chindogu Champion (Japan, Inc)

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