The Japanese are some of the best in the world when it comes to high-tech innovation. Cars, technology – they’ve got it down.

However, the land of the rising sun is also home to the concept of Chindogu, the art of inventing “unuseless” creations. Butter in a gluestick container, a tie that’s actually an umbrella, shoes equipped with a tiny broom and dustpan … these are all Chindogu.

To you and me, these Japanese inventions look absurd. But to Kenji Kawakami, an inventor and the progenitor of Chindogu, they’re an embodiment of a whole philosophy – with the added benefit of giving the world a few laughs.

The 10 Tenets of Chindogu

While these creations may appear to be a random assortment of strange and funny ideas, in order to actually be worthy of the name Chindogu, they must adhere to Kawakami’s 10 tenets (taken from, shortened and paraphrased in places):

  1. A Chindogu must be (almost) completely useless.
  2. A Chindogu must exist in the real world. You must be able to hold it in your hand.
  3. Every Chindogu object is something that has broken free from the chain of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action.
  4. Chindogu must be tools for everyday life that everyone can understand and appreciate.
  5. Chindogu are not for sale.
  6. The creation of Chindogu is primarily a problem-solving activity – humor is just a by-product.
  7. Chindogu are innocent. They should be made with the best intentions.
  8. Chindogu must adhere to certain standards of social decency, agreed upon by the International Chindogu Society. No cheap, base, or cruel humor is allowed.
  9. Chindogu are offerings to the world, not to be copyrighted or patented.
  10. Chindogu must never favor one group, race, religion, gender, etc. over another. They are without prejudice.

Now, without further ado, our list of the 7 most ridiculous Chindogu inventions we’ve seen:

  1. The butter stick. It’s basically butter in a gluestick – which, when you think about it, could almost be useful. This is a prime example of how Chindogu inventions walk that extremely thin line between “What a crazy idea” and “That might actually work.”
  2. Duster slippers for cats. Cats spend enough time walking around on bookshelves, tables, counters, and on top of TVs that they could stand to be put to work. Throw on a pair of these kitty dusting slippers and make them earn their keep. Plus, we all know how much cats love wearing things on their paws.
  3. The chopstick fan. For the impatient eater. This handy fan attached to your chopsticks cools your food while it’s on the way to your mouth. How’s that for a time saver?
  4. The rain-proof umbrella. If you really don’t want to get wet, this umbrella is for you. With fold-down plastic sides, it covers your entire body.
  5. Baby onesie mop. Just like cats, babies don’t do much to help with the cleaning either. Let them mop the floor while they learn to crawl!
  6. Extendable arm for selfies. Oh, hang on – this one made it out of the Chindogu world and into real life. Whether or not it’s still actually unuseless is up to you.
  7. The book-shaped pillow. College students who’ve fallen asleep while studying, only to wake up in a drool puddle with a neckache, will appreciate this one. Shaped just like an open book, the “pages” are a soft pillow. It’ll take you back to your student days in a heartbeat.

At Pivot, we generally find ourselves creating products that do have a use in the real world, but you never know – maybe we’ll end up with a Chindogu creation at some point. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about developing a product that you do want to take to market, check out our e-book library.