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You have definitely seen a chindōgu. They are those ridiculous Japanese inventions designed to solve a particular problem but are, in fact, so clumsy and inelegant that they are an inconvenience to use, and generate a whole lot of new problems. A few examples of chindōgu are: chopsticks with a miniature electric fan to cool noodles on the way to the mouth; glasses with attached funnels that allow the wearer to apply eye drops with accuracy; tiny umbrellas attached to cameras to take picture in the rain; a toilet plunger with a ring at one end that attaches to train-car ceilings and functions as a handrail in crowded carriages, and so on.

“Basically, chindogu is the same as the Industrial Revolution in Britain,” says Kenji Kawakami, who coined the term chindōgu, which means “weird tool” in Japanese. “The one big difference is that while most inventions are aimed at making life more convenient, chindogu have greater disadvantages than precursor products, so people can’t sell them. They’re invention dropouts.”

chindogu-360-camera-hat

A 360-degree camera hat for taking panoramic pictures.

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