Cute so-hopelessly-specialized-they're-useless invention
s and gadget
s popular, at least on the conceptual level, in Japan
. Though silly devices have been around forever, this particular coining (chin
, from the japanese word for "unusual
", and dogu
, from the japanese word for "tool
") was accomplished by Japanese designer, anarchist and mail-order enthusiast Kenji Kawakami
who, in collaboration with Dan Papia (president of the 10,000-strong International Chindogu Society
), popularized the objects and the philosophy behind them worldwide in a collection of books slyly titled "101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions
Examples of chindogu include a waterproof vinyl bag you can climb into so you can enjoy a bath without getting your clothes wet, fuzzy slippers to put on your cat's feet so it can dust as it runs around the house, the grid-marked back-scratching t-shirt (for easy indication of itch location) and the ever-popular panoramic (literally) camera-hat - a piece of haberdashery with sixteen cameras mounted atop pointing in all directions which all snap simultaneously, giving you 360 degrees of photographic coverage for those vistas which are equally spectacular in all directions.
It is not atypical for a chindogu object to raise a problem for every problem it solves - a good example of this is the rotating fork, intended to twirl a mouthful of noodles together through a battery-powered motor which had the unforseen side-effect of spinning the sauce / broth all over and splattering your tablemates.
Though such irony could be seen to be a subtle Adbusters-style parody/criticism of consumer culture, number seven of the ten tenets of Chindogu asserts that Chindogu should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind. The spirit behind them is not cruel but rather one of whimsy, the realization of an invention a child might come up with in a misguided attempt to be more practical.