For this list, we’ll be looking at Japanese inventions that are unconventional, eccentric or downright hilarious, especially in the eyes of Western consumers. In the name of entertainment, intermixed with these totally well meaning inventions, we’ll be including examples of “Chindōgu” – a Japanese art that involves inventing products to solve a problem in a manner that ultimately creates an even larger problem. 

  1. Keeping with Japan’s trend of slowly replacing humans, graduate student Nobuhiro Takahashi came up with something we thought we could never need: a butt robot. Not a robot with a booty, just the booty. Named Shiri, it responds to human touch with varying emotions. It can express happiness when stroked, or get tense when slapped. Variants of this butt machine have come out in the West, and are used for pornographic VR. It’s just one more step in man’s quest to make Westworld-level sex robots, but on its own, pulsating on your table, this all too serious invention takes top spot on our list. No ifs, ands or BUTTS about it.

  2. Sometimes, it’s the strangest things that sell. If you’ve been recently dumped, or are feeling neglected, then these pillows are for you. The boyfriend pillow is a soft torso to snuggle against, and comes with a protective arm to wrap around yourself while you dream of how lucky you are. But men shouldn’t get jealous. They have their own pillow, designed like a woman’s lap, non-judgmental and waiting for them to cozy up on. We guess pillows of people’s body parts can be comforting, but there’s something slightly eerie about it. Thankfully, they haven’t yet invented the disembodied head pillow… yet.

  3. We’ve all seen those videos of the crowded Tokyo subway. Well, chances are you won’t be finding a seat. If you’re tired after a long day’s work though, and if there’s room, this chin-stick is meant to rest your head and take a nap... standing up on the moving subway! If you’re one of the few who can actually sit down, the commuter’s helmet is a hat with a suction cup on the end, to help you sleep without slouching over or rocking side to side. Afraid of missing your stop? It’s designed to hold a card to show other commuters which stop is yours. “Chindogu”... no one ever called it a subtle art.

  4. Hard to believe, but this is NOT an example of “Chindōgu.” People enjoy karaoke because they love to sing. Other people just want to play SingStar without hearing themselves. Introducing Silent Karaoke! It’s a microphone that actually does the opposite of a microphone. It’s meant to mute your voice, so you can sing as loud as you want, but no one will be able to hear. It’s great if you’re shy, but is also helpful if you live in a crowded area and don’t want to disturb neighbors, especially if your singing skills are... lacking. It has a USB port, so it can be used with the un-judging ears of gaming consoles.

  5. We promise... not every invention will be intentionally absurd. But isn’t “Chindōgu” fun? Finally, a use for cats and babies! This invention is meant as a passive way to dust floors. These 4 cat-sized dusting slippers will ensure your household gets cleaner with each feline footstep. If your cat is lazy and only walks to reach a second lounge area where it plans to nap for another 4 hours, fear not, this invention comes in a baby onesie model too. Isn’t it about time that your newly crawling infant started contributing to the household anyway? Realistically, the baby is way less likely to put up a fight, since we all know how much cats like having their paws covered.

  6. At first glance, this term might just sound like a name for someone who loves chopsticks. What else could it possibly… oh no. Really? This miniature fan attached to your chopsticks is the answer nobody asked for to hot noodle soup. Sure, you could just blow on the noodles, but we live in an age of electricity, so why use you breath like a peasant? Strap a fan on those chopsticks and enjoy! The device is simple and certainly accomplishes its purpose, but it seems like it would be a little cumbersome, adding excessive weight to those light chopsticks. Oh “Chindōgu”.

  7. Another example of “Chindōgu”, we’ll give this one points for creativity. We know that umbrellas are unwieldy and sometimes it’s just not worth it to lug one around all day in the off chance of rain. The umbrella tie makes all this a non-issue by turning your umbrella into clothing. If you’re required to wear a tie to work anyway, this invention could prove a win-win. With a little more finesse, we think the umbrella tie could actually work, but in its current iteration, it doesn’t look much like a tie. Furthermore, the weight must get unbearable over an 8-hour workday. Be thankful, at least, that this umbrella doesn’t have a tube and tank attached.

  8. You’d think that most people wouldn’t have trouble aiming something into their eye, seeing as you use your eyes to aim in the first place. But for the few whose drops do end up on their faces or in their mouths, Japan has yet another over-the-top solution. These eye-funnel glasses have holes in the lens and a funnel pushed in, giving the wearer a larger area to aim for, while ensuring contact with the eyes. The issue though, is that aim isn’t most people’s problem - it’s hesitance and blinking, not to mention that the glasses don’t prevent the excess eye drop fluid from dripping on your face anyway. Nonetheless, it inspired an American interpretation.

  9. “Chindōgu” alert! Have you ever been out in the rain, and wished that your umbrella flipped upside down in order to collect water that goes through a tube in the bottom of its handle into a giant plastic tank? Well, that’s what this ingenious invention dubbed the “personal rain saver” has to offer. Sure, you’ll probably get soaking wet, but that’s just more free water you can squeeze out when you get home, right? Ok, maybe it can save you a few bucks on bottled water, or help you lower that water bill, but surely there are easier ways to collect rainwater without, y’know, walking around with it?

  10. Be sure to warn those around you before putting this on. Also known as a “lip trainer,” this mouth-widening device is thought to help fight the effects of aging by training your lips and facial muscles. You simply pop it into your mouth and perform a series of short exercises. While this invention is purely for cosmetic purposes, Japan also has lip-training devices to help with medical problems like snoring or dermatitis. While a reporter at the Daily Mail called the face-toning results marginal at best, some people swear by it. The real question: is it worth looking like a perpetually surprised doll? You decide.

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