Japan is a wonderful place filled with all types of awesome gadgets, some of which have truly changed the world. Japanese inventors have brought us the PlayStation, Blu Ray, heck, even compact CDs and flash drives. It seems like they're leading the race in innovation when it comes to things that are not just useful, but necessary in today's world... However, chindōgu does exist and that's how Japan has also become known as the land of the weird and unusual when it comes to inventions as well. What is chindōgu, exactly? Allow us to explain.
Simply put, it's the act of creating absolutely useless inventions that at first seem like they actually have a purpose. The term can literally be translated to "unusual tool" which is exactly what most of these things are. You've all seen things such as the "baby mop" and "broom shoes" -- well, these are just some of those useless and weird creations. This crazy art was first made popular in 1995 when Kenji Kawakami and Dan Papia collaborated on a book about it, and this was also when these weird ideas made their way overseas. Now, chindōgu seems commonplace in Japan and whether anyone uses these inventions has yet to be confirmed, but you can be sure that all 20 of these will definitely make you forget about their traditional Hello Kitty reputation.
19 The Mildly Uncomfortable Ear Explorer
If you've always wanted to find out what's going on past your earlobes, we bring forth the "ear explorer". This unusual little tool contains a scope on one end that connects to a viewfinder on the other so that you can -- Yes you guessed it -- Pole around inside your ear canal. The woman featured in the advertisement above looks positively delighted to finally have a visual account of the amount of wax living in her auditory tubes, meanwhile, we'd rather just not think about it. This delightful invention has actually inspired several other spin-offs, some much more advanced than this initial model.
18 Bacon Hair Fashion Before Bacon Breakfast
You know Japan is pretty famous for their crazy fashions and hair accessories, especially in the area of Harajuku. We're pretty sure you've never seen something quite this crazy, though -- Yes, that is bacon and a fried egg on a headband. Gone are the days of Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl and her velvet and diamond-encrusted headpieces, and in are the days where we wear breakfast food on our heads. Who are we to stop you from trying out this trend, though? If you consider yourself a foodie and are really intrigued by this fashion statement, there are plenty of other food options for you to explore, including spaghetti and meatballs that looks as though it's fashionably sliding down your face. Yum.
17 The Weiner Ear Plug
That's exactly what it sounds like: An earplug that looks like a cute little wiener dog is actually walking out of your ear. Initially, I thought this was an adorable way to convey to the world that no, you don't really want to listen to it right now. That is until I realized you can't really do much with this earplug in. You can sit down and study, sure -- But is it really practical for sleeping? Laying down? Good for use while swimming? Also, what does the other end look like? Is it shaped like a tail that magically fits in your ear? I need to know before I see one on the street and become tempted to pull it out just to satisfy my own curiosity.
16 Fish Cakes But Not really
Pancakes are evidently very big in Japan, at least that's the impression I get from all the anime scenes where characters are scarfing them down. Here we have your typical manual pancake-maker, perfectly ready for use on a Sunday morning when you're in the mood for fluffy flat cakes... That are shaped like Koi fish. We're not saying that it's the prettiest version of a pancake you could get, but it does make breakfast interesting. At least you don't have to go out to the swimming hole to catch these; It's as simple as saying, "pass me a fish, would you?" Weird.
15 For All Those Who Suffer During Cold Season
Weak immune systems, this one goes out to you. As someone who often suffers from at least one cold a year, this seemed like a dream come true when I was made away of its existence. However, the more you look at it, the more it seems like something out of a joke book. First of all, toilet paper isn't the lightest thing to carry on your head all day. Second of all, it would inevitably flop over to one side or the other, and third, I can't imagine the acrobatics it takes to rip a piece off after you've already blown your nose on it. Ew. I adore you, Japan, but this avant-garde nose-blowing invention is probably something best kept to the mail-order magazines.
14 When You Want A Dog But Can't Have One
This is one of the cuter things to come out of Japan's inventions. It's definitely not chindōgu because it does serve a purpose. For all those who are either allergic to dogs, can't have them, or just love them and don't want one of their own, the Huggable Pug is the answer to your cuteness needs. The greatest thing about this little guy is that you can actually pop him in the microwave which feels wrong in every single way possible, but we're sure you'll forget about that easily when you hug his warm, toasty pug body. We do have to point out one thing, though: This was the perfect opportunity to call this creation the "Puggable". A true opportunity missed, Japan.
13 Creepy Cat Candles For Your Creepy Needs
Not only can you have your cat candle but you can destroy it, too. Anywhere else, this would be a neat piece of decor to put out for Halloween or during a spooky party. In Japan, it's just another day in the life of weird inventions. I hate to admit that I'm kind of digging it (just call me the spook type) but at the same time, there's something so oddly disturbing about the fact that this cat was stunning in pink geometric form and then is just reduced to a skeleton surrounded by melted wax-flesh. It's weird, it's creepy, and as the kids would call it these days, it's "lit".
12 Yoda Cats? Foreteller Cats? Cats In Blankets?
This was an Amazon-featured product that definitely ranks right up there with the rest of the strange inventions to come out of the land of the rising sun. These Kitan Club Neko "Cat in Blanket" cats are cute but in a really strange way. Each one of them seems to have the same nondescript, dead-on expression that leaves you convinced they can see straight through your soul after a while. Initially, you think, "wow, these would be adorable on my desk", until a week later when you're hiding under it to get away from the staredown from this gang of kittens. It's not Hello Kitty by any means and if this is what's dethroning Hello Kitty, well, we'll stick to the cartoon nostalgia.
11 The Rock That Will Haunt Your Nightmares Forever
I didn't want to believe it was legitimate, but it is. This is a rock-shaped coin purse which would be perfectly fine on its own, you know, without the addition of teeth. We're not sure who's idea it was to add dentures to the mix but they've created something that's absolutely bizarre. The Japanese invented the pebble purse, but we can only wonder who the deeply disturbed individual was who thought, "Hey, some pearly whites would make this bag even better". You can't unsee this now and we refuse to take responsibility for any dreams where you're running from giant versions of this thing. Pulling change out of your bag will never be the same again.
10 The Takada Collection Face Bank, Also From Your Nightmares
Let's just start off by saying that this bank is completely impractical because the rate at which it "eats" coins is comparable to a turtle snacking on a carrot. Regardless, it could be seen in one of two ways: Cute or deranged. Cute, because if you squint and don't look too hard, it almost looks like a tiny, blue monkey face. Derranged because, well, look at it. It's designed so that the entire face moves and will literally change expressions in the process of eating your money which is not only incredibly creepy but somewhat unnerving as well. I'll keep my change in my pocket forever, thanks.
9 Is That A Takoyaki? No, It's Just My USB Drive
There's no denying it, somehow, Japan always manages to make fake food look absolutely tantalizing. Like this Takoyaki, for example. Usually, takoyaki is filled with minced octopus, tempura, green onion, and pickled ginger. This one is filled with a flash drive. While we applaud the design and realism of this delicious-looking ball of yum, we're secretly hating the fact that we're now reminded that we need to clear off memory on our computer and that we're also without takoyaki. This invention is just a recipe for hanger.
8 Is That A Steak On Your Back?
Japan thoroughly enjoys their food, so much so that they've decided to begin wearing giant versions of it on their backs. This one takes no explaining; that is, indeed, a backpack in the shape of a giant steak. Not only is this a nightmare for vegetarians and vegans alike, but it's also a strange thing to form a love for. Why not a cooked steak? It's a strange choice for a back-to-school option with its bright red straps and implied layer of steak fat. It gives off the strangest feeling of being hungry, wanting to barbeque, and wanting to run away, all at the same time.
7 It's Not A Mint But It'll Burn Your Mouth Just The Same
Cruel joke or an interesting snack? We can't make up our minds when it comes to this one. Granted, wasabi is a necessary evil when it comes to eating all types of sushi because it provides that slow, pleasant burn that clears your sinuses on bad allergy days. However, putting it in candy form is like saying, "Hey, you need to clear your sinuses? How about dealing with a runny nose and burning esophagus for three hours instead?" To be frank, I couldn't tell you if this candy really is that spicy. If judging by the look of it is any compilation, though, I'd say "no thank you" when offered this choice for Halloween.
6 Square Watermelons Exist
This is an excellent example of how innovative, albeit strange, Japan is when it comes to leading the world into a bright and inventive future. Square watermelons are simple enough to grow (they're relatively manipulable, who would have guessed) but yes, they do look rather strange. The reasoning for growing watermelons in this shape is that they fit in smaller refrigerators more easily because apparently, that's a big thing in Japan. While it seems new, this method of square-growing actually made its first appearance over a decade ago and since then, watermelons have been grown in plenty of shapes. To us, they just look like Candy Crush blocks.
5 To Make Napping At Work Even More Obvious
You're tired, it's midday, you got a rough night's sleep -- We don't blame you for occasionally needing a few minutes of shut-eye while on the clock. Thanks to Japan, you can now make that much easier while also making it unbelievably obvious. This fake hand simply gets screwed onto the arm of your computer chair and flexes just enough to give your that perfect angle to catch a few Zz's. And hey, if you're tired at school and really aiming to have an eraser thrown at your head to wake you up, why not try this on your desk chair as well? It's great and slightly amusing in theory, but a recipe for disaster in real life.
4 Cleaning Can Be Fun And Lazy
It seems like Japan is always coming up with new inventions to take the hassle out of doing things, such as cleaning. First, you saw the mop baby and even mop dog, but now, we bring you the remote-controlled duster. We never said it was efficient, but it is fun. Get one for yourself and for your friends; Have a duster-racing competition to see who can reach that dust bunny that's been sitting in the corner for the last three months. The fun never ends when you can control your duster with a race car remote, as long as you don't mind figure-8's running through your dust piles.
3 The Only Goggles That You Really Need
No, these are not the counterpart to the propeller beanie. These are Japan's answer to chopping onions for those who get a bit more teary-eyed than usual when it comes to prepping that stirfry. It's a simple invention but definitely, one that has us questioning why no one thought about it before, that's if it even works -- Which still remains to be seen. There are plenty of ways to avoid crying while chopping onions, including freezing the onion beforehand, putting a splash of vinegar on your cutting board, lighting a candle, etc. However, propeller glasses are news to us... If nothing else, it'll keep your eyesockets nice and cool.
2 It's Not Outerspace, It's Just Japan
Capsule hotels! You may have heard of these in the news or from a travel site (maybe even ours) and yes, they are a legitimate option for an overnight stay while in Japan. This weird, somewhat claustrophobic invention has helped significantly to save space, the cost of an overnight hotel stay and allow people the freedom to come and go as they please without hassle. These pods are great for a night or two when you're on the road or on a business trip and just passing through, but as far as a full-on hotel stay experience, you might want to look elsewhere. And don't ask us where the bathroom is, because that's still unclear.
1 Portable And Reusable Bubble Wrap
This is the perfect way to annoy everyone else on the train. In America, they have fidget spinners. In Japan, they've created bubble wrap that you can take on-the-go and pop as many times as necessary. This is either a very good idea or a very bad idea depending on your age and maturity level. While it might help to reduce some stress and give you something to fidget with, we're pretty sure it would be mildly annoying for the person sitting next to you. It's great in theory but very noisy and somewhat random in real life.