I’m not much of a shopper but if I’m going to be suckered into buying something I don’t need, it’s going to happen in Japan.
Walking inside a shop anywhere in Japan is like walking into quicksand: it’s a struggle getting out of there.
Everything, absolutely everything, looks so appealing. Given the correct packaging I bet a can of crispy toenails could, without much conviction, replace caramelised cashew nuts as the run to choice of snack. Things you never thought would ever be manufactured, never-mind make it onto the market, find a home in Japan. This is a country where toilets play music to you after all!
As you already know, most of the appeal lies in the packaging, Hello Kitty has not grown an allegiance of fans for its application of minimalism, but ironically that’s why Muji has. The Japanese know how to attract us, the consumer, so we flock to the shop shelves like crazed magpies. It’s dangerous. Even if we do manage to avoid the allure of needless items meticulously arranged before us, we still have to wrestle with the miniature screens often positioned along the shop floor. The voice whispering ‘buy me, buy me, buy me’ isn’t just the demons in our head any longer!
Things could potentially get so out of hand there ought to be a safety warning for shopaholics before entering Japan. Willingly letting these people into the country is like holding out a cigarette to a person with lung cancer, or spoonfeeding chocolate fudge cake to a morbidly obese person with diabetes. Without supervision, shopaholics might buy themselves into poverty, worse still, shop themselves to death like those ludicrous cases you read about in South Korea where gamers die from playing too many video games.
Taking it one step further is the phenomena Chindogu, best explained as the art of creating something useless, but with a hint of usefulness. It is therefore unuseless.
These type of gadgets will never be invented by the likes of Google or IBM, it’ll more likely be the result of someone like your dad locking himself in the garage, having coined the idea in between changing your nappies and potty training you. It was never going to work.
However, Chindogu has won a place in people’s hearts, I think it’s part of human nature to want the underdog to be triumphant, so even though many of these inventions create more problems than solve, we love and accept them for all their flaws!
Here are a few of my favourites.
Whoever said babies make a mess are wrong!
This is the only reason why I want to have a baby.
Forget waiting for your food to cool down, the answer has arrived.
Easy Eye Drops
Opticians and pharmacists would make a killing if they sold these to every patient who walked in with a gammy eye. I’m truly baffled why this chindogu hasn’t already gone mainstream.
Lending a Hand in the Kitchen
The purpose of this artificial hand is to the knife what an oven mitt is to heat. There’s nothing creepy looking about this at all…
Train Nap Cap
No longer do you have to worry about falling asleep onto the person sitting next to you and dribbling out a slow lubrication of embarrassment. The only criticism I have about this design is it could do with looking a little daintier to say the least.
Keep Your Tootsies Dry
I see the merits of this, but I don’t think we’re going to see a decline in the sale of wellies any time soon!
You might laugh at someone wearing these, but they’ll be the last ones laughing when you’ve got a screaming baby seated in front of you on the plane.
These retro photos of chindogu were taken from chindogu.com