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3.03. Chindogu (GB)



Important notice 


In our catalogue of products sold on our website you will not find any chindogu.

All our products have a real practical use and are perfectly usable.

On you will find small gifts, unique gifts, gift ideas to personalise, gift ideas for a mum, a dad, a friend or for whoever you want!


Chindogu according to Wikipedia, 


“Chindogu is the Japanese art of inventing gadgets.”

                                                “Useful but unusable” 


These objects seem useful because they solve small everyday problems of modern life but turn out to be unusable in practice because of the new constraints they generate or the sheer ridiculousness they entail.” 

The literal translation is “curious / strange tool”.



Chindogu is actually an art form created in the 1980s by Kenji Kawakami, a Japanese engineer.

Although he has filed several patents, Kenji Kawakami claims to invent or innovate without commercial or utilitarian purposes.

With a degree in aeronautics, Kenji Kawakami became an inventor of absurd objects in a joyful form of anti-consumerism and against the omnipresent utilitarianism of the modern world by creating an international movement dedicated to the invention of preposterous objects.

The preface to the Japanese engineer’s book, “101 Useless and Wacky Japanese Inventions”, published by “Vent d’Ouest” in 1998, states that all the creations on display are of high quality and that all these products have been tested to ensure their reliability.


Kenji Kawakami began his career as a cartoon scriptwriter, already denouncing the symbols of Japanese modernity, such as karaoke, the national “sport” of his country. In the 1980s, while running the consumer magazine Tsuhan Seikatsu, he created the Chindogu movement. Now, more than 20 years and 600 inventions later, his fame knows no boundaries. Fans have founded Chindogu clubs in the United States, Great Britain and Japan, and thousands of proselytisers ponder the most useless concepts by following the “Ten Commandments of Chindogu” (see next page).



In particular 


The fork with a built-in motor for rolling up spaghetti: which can get very messy, the mini umbrellas for shoes, the hat for people with colds with a roll of toilet paper at hand, etc.

The absurdity has made Kenji Kawakami a star. He has published four books, all of which are bestsellers in Japan and have been translated into several languages.  

Every week, millions of Japanese watch television to see his latest rant.

There is an association of over 10,000 people worldwide:

 “The International Chindogu Society”


There is also a “French Chindogu Academy”! académie française des chindogus


“We are witnessing a phenomenon similar to the industrial revolution in England,” says Kawakami with that sense of self-deprecation he never loses.

“Being free is the most important thing in life. Chindogu is the symbol of freedom, only a free soul can create stupid and crazy things”, explains Kawakami.


The founder of Chindogu assures that the number of products we can create when we are free from practicality is infinite, which is why he plans to publish an album on the science of the useless.  The new book contains a safe with a combination so long that it would take 160 times the lifetime of the universe to crack it. It is, according to the author, an allegory of time – and the waste of time.


Below you will find a video with chindogus more or less known to all!


The ten principles of chindogu


  1. The chindogu must not be designed for real use. It should be practically unusable.
  2. A chindogu must exist. Even if it cannot actually be used, the chindogu must physically exist.
  3. Each chindogu must convey the idea of a certain anarchy, and have been created in a certain anarchy.  Chindōgu are objects created by man but which have freed themselves from the concept of utility. They represent the freedom to think and act; the freedom to defy the old, suffocating dominance of the useful; the freedom to be (almost) useless.
  4. The chindōgu are designed for everyday life. They should be understood by everyone, and everywhere. The chindōgu is a form of non-verbal communication. Extremely specific or technical inventions are not classifiable as chindōgu.
  5. Chindōgu are not sold. Chindōgu are not meant to be sold or bought.
  6. Humour should not be the sole motivation for creating a chindōgu. The creation of a chindōgu is basically a “problem-solving” activity. The humour is simply the co-product of finding an elaborate and/or unconventional solution to a problem that was not necessarily compelling.
  7. The chindōgu is not propaganda. A chindōgu is innocent. It is meant to be used, even if it will not be used. It should not be created as a perverse or ironic commentary on the human condition.
  8. A chindōgu cannot be taboo. It must not be vulgar, nor must it harm any living creature.
  9. A chindōgu cannot be patented. Chindōgu are offered to the whole world. They are therefore not ideas that can be protected, copyrighted, patented, collected or owned. As the Spanish say, “Mi chindōgu, es tu chindōgu”.
  10. A chindōgu must not cause any harm.


At the La Rochelle trade fair (September 2021), the chindogu celebrated the useless


 A photo showed a pair of shoes with hooves and the following message: “Deer and wild boar are in the line of fire. Help them by leading hunters on false trails”. An astonishing, funny and totally superfluous invention that fits perfectly with the philosophy of chindogu, the chindogu that was the theme of the La Rochelle 2021 fair.  


The concept was invented by the Japanese Kenji Kawakami and taken up by the French inventor Jean-Christophe Coq,” explains Bertrand Syre, who is in charge of the programming of animations and the theme in 2021. When we saw the exhibition in Montluçon a few years ago, we said to ourselves that we absolutely had to show this invention! We wanted to do something that would challenge people! And it worked. In the room, laughter broke out here and there. “They have imagination,” said one visitor.


Nature, the beach, transport… Many themes were addressed at this exhibition in La Rochelle. In total, more than 200 objects were divided by theme. Here, chopsticks are equipped with a fan to cool Asian noodles during lunch break. So you don’t have to choose between burning your tongue or being late for work. Here, small umbrellas for shoes so that you don’t come home with wet feet. The last example: the spike alarm clock. Equipped with spikes, it guarantees an energetic awakening when pressed to turn it off, preventing you from falling back to sleep.


Conclusion by Kenji Kawasaki


Kawakami disagrees with those who believe that man’s inventions have always been for the better: in his view, the digital age shows that mankind sometimes creates inventions that separate us and make us less and less communicative. With his absurd gizmos, this frustrated inventor seeks to make us laugh while drawing attention to the aberrations of a world that swears by novelty.


Lessons to learn from chindogu! 

Are you making chindogu without knowing it? 

Even if the wacky inventions inspired by chindogu are often just fun, it is imperative to ask yourself if the invention you think is revolutionary and will change the world is simply chindogu!




Kenji Kawakami, Japon. Joindre l’inutile au dérisoire courrier international 16-4-2014

( Kenji Kawakami, Japan. Joining the useless with the derisory international mail 16-4-2014)




Chindōgu — Wikipédia



Top 32 Funny But Useless Japanese Inventions – YouTube


Journal Sudouest 

A la Foire-Expo de La Rochelle, le chindogu célèbre l’inutile

(At the La Rochelle trade fair, the chindogu celebrates the useless)


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