Business Transformation

Chindogu the Japanese inventions that laugh at our faces

Halong Bay in Japan

Inventions are everywhere and most of the time they are used to make our lives easy. There are two concepts that are often confused in people’s minds, inventions, and patents. In order to patent something it must comply with 3 basic conditions; it has to be innovative, industrially realizable, and useful. The word patent includes the concept of innovation but goes a step further.

It talks about how it should serve at least one of our needs and most importantly it clarifies that people should be able to produce it and to be precise they have to be able to produce it in large quantities if they wish to. Patents govern the materialistic world and for that reason people who owe businesses love them. As long as something can be produced, it can also be sold. Services can be sold as well but they follow a completely different marketing strategy due to their non-materialistic nature.

At the same time, Japanese people have always been innovative, and perhaps because of the fact that they live on an isolated island, their innovations seem to be quite different than the ones of the rest of the world. However, there is a category of innovations that have not been created due to their wild imagination and as a result of their poor interaction with the continent but because Japanese apart from what some may think also have a great taste of humor.

Probably it’s time to talk about all those Japanese “inventions” about which from time to time we often hear. These seemingly useless and funny inventions (shoes with umbrellas, fans installed on chopsticks, baby clothes that mop the floors, etc.) have a name and are called Chindogu. Chindogu is something like a movement, which was fashionable in Japan and acquired a whole community in the ’90s, with” inventor ” Kenji Kawakami! The literal translation of the word is “useless tool.”According to Kenji however, Chindogu means “strange tool” and it is an art in which an object is created that is more absurd than useful. The reason Kenji started this whole thing was as a mockery of capitalism as he hated materialism and that everything was turning into a commodity. In order for it to be considered an “invention” Chindogu, must obey 10 rules according to the Chindogu community. Let’s see them in detail:

1. It has to be useless

2. It should be able to be produced be made

3. It needs to be governed by a spirit of Anarchy

4. It has to be able to be used in everyday life

5. It cannot be for sale

6. It cannot be made just for fun

7. It cannot be a form of propaganda

8. It cannot be offensive and defiant

9. It cannot be able to register a patent

10. It cannot be used to promote discrimination and it should be for everyone

Of course, many Chindogu inventions, some years later proved to be somewhat useful and were produced by businessmen who released them into the market. For example, baby clothes that mop the floor when the baby crawls. In fact, a few decades after they were invented they were actually released in the US and are currently for sale. This is against the 5th rule that we mentioned above so they can no longer be characterized as Chindogu.

The golden rules did not only come to protect the concept of Chindogu but also acted as a means to challenge people to focus on the ideas they can come up with. They inspired people to come with crazy ideas like the ones we described above but also act on another level. Serious businessmen who indeed want to join the market with an outbreaking concept can test some of their ideas through this culture. These inventions or innovations or whatever one wants to call them can give us a clue of how people think at each moment. The creators of each idea test their idea on the crowds and if it works someone can use them to gain some money. This is not their initial purpose and no one can trust them to decide their future moves but they can always keep an eye on every strange and bizarre idea that pops into people’s minds.

Have you read?

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The World’s Richest People (Top 100 Billionaires, 2022).
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Anna Siampani
Anna Siampani, Lifestyle Editorial Director at the CEOWORLD magazine, working with reporters covering the luxury travel, high-end fashion, hospitality, and lifestyle industries. As lifestyle editorial director, Anna oversees CEOWORLD magazine's daily digital editorial operations, editing and writing features, essays, news, and other content, in addition to editing the magazine's cover stories, astrology pages, and more. You can reach Anna by mail at anna@ceoworld.biz