Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chindogu: The mad engineering of Japan

I could write this entire blog on Japan alone. They have a long history of unusual invention, unusual perspective, and general oddness in the eyes of the rest of the world. This was made further manifest in 1995, when an inventor, Mr. Kawakami, came up with the idea of mocking the pop-culture tendency to make gadgets to solve problems with gadgets that were so utterly bizarre or impractical that no one in their right mind would use them. He calls this "Chindogu."
"Chindogu" literally translates "unusual tool," but they're more than just unusual. They're playfully un-useless. That is to say, they're technically useful, but so odd or embarrassing that they cannot be used. The inventor speculates that a proper chindogu is not patented, and is not satire, but it's hard to imagine many of them being anything else.
Commonly listed Chindogus are Chopsticks with attached fan for excessively hot noodles, some kind of toilet paper hat so that you're never far from a usable tissue (which might be practical for someone with a severe cold or hayfever), a feather-duster whose handle contains a cocktail shaker (since one should be rewarded for cleaning diligently, right?), and a drysuit for the aquaphobic (which I'm fairly sure is missing the point of aquaphobia). And yes, some wag has indeed put together a solar-powered flashlight, which appears in many jokes about stupidity.
Truly, Mr. Kawakami is a master of mad engineering, even if his ultimate goal is to mock it. He also succeeds as a conventional engineer. An interview with him plugs a DVD that he made to strengthen weakened eye muscles, since eye-strain is at an all time high with the constant reading and working at computer screens and other close-range precision irritations.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...