There is a prevailing picture of the Japanese as a polite and proper people who, aside from an almost fanatical passion for karaoke (and Frank Sinatra’s My Way), strictly move based on the dictates of tradition and respect. Such a boring picture, isn’t it?
But that is a mental picture of the Japanese before the 1950s. Today, the Japanese is as cosmopolitan as the Europeans, as fashion-forward as the Italians, and yes, as crazy as the Americans – perhaps more so if we are to base it on the popular pastime of useless inventions.
The useless inventions, or Chindogu movement clearly shows the fun and irreverent side to the Japanese. The movement, which was founded by Kenji Kawakami, pokes fun at the spirit of innovation that the Japanese are long known for. It’s a delightful look into the relentless drive of the Japanese to excel as seen through circus mirrors – distorted, irreverent, silly and ultimately delightful. Chindogu also gives us a glimpse at how wild is the imagination of the Japanese. How else would they have thought of dust mops that you attach to your pet cat’s feet so that they can help clean the floors when they are moving? Or the handy sling where you can rest your chin and then attach on to the hand rails of a commuter train if you want to sleep standing up?
One of the ten tenets best describe the spirit of Chindogu: Inherent in every chindogu is the the spirit of anarchy. It has broken free from the chains of usefulness.
Only the Japanese can think of this.