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December 2, 2020

20 Weird Japanese Inventions That We Definitely Need

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is world-reknowned for its technological prowess. It’s no secret that Japanese always try to come up with some new gadgets and devices that would make our life easier (or more difficult). They have some of the most advanced robotics in the whole world, and are reknowned for their public transportation capabilities.

While these are useful and important technologies, Japanese inventors often take things in weird directions, creating things either extremely specific or extremely wacky.

Below is a collection of some of ingenious Japanese inventions from the end of the past millennium that never became quite popular.

1. Special Cost-Effective 360-Degree Panoramic Camera

Speaking of ridiculous head accoutrements, here is another one to consider. Taking panoramic shots that stitch together well was one of the perennial problems of photography. But thanks to one ingenious Japanese individual, it isn’t anymore, or so he thought.

Anything this camera purports to be able to do, like shoot panoramic photos and/or interactive 360 photos, can now be done by any mobile phone running the relevant application. But until one can stick a mobile phone to his head in the name of fashion, this 360 halo camera has a slight edge as a fashion statement.

2. Useful 10-in-1 Tool Kit for Gardening

A giant Swiss Army knife for any acolyte of Alan Titchmarsh. There’s a shovel, rake, pickaxe and trowel amongst other things. Gardeners complain about bad backs all the time – they’ll probably be rushed in to the ER with a slipped disc after this thing.

3. Ear Enhancer

Somethings should only be used for one thing. Bowls, for example. They should be used only to hold things in... not to enhance hearing in weird ways!

This Japanese invention is called the Ear Enhancer. It was made with what looks like bowls to enhance your range and accuracy of hearing. To many, it has actually worked and doesn’t seem like much at all.

4. Rain Water Collection Device

Those unfortunate enough to live in areas that have limited access to water will appreciate this one. It is an upside down umbrella; the purpose of which is to collect rain water. It is hooked up to a bag that’s designed to hold the collected water.

It’s a somewhat good idea. Except for the possibility that consuming the water collected might be less than hygienic, considering the many pollutants that might have drifted along with it. Also, bottled water would be galactically more convenient than having to lug around a bag of rain water.

5. Shoe Protectors for Rain

Some people love their shoes so much that they will do anything to protect them. This has spawned a whole market of shoe protective novelties like plastic bags that can wrap around the shoe and the like. This novelty below was designed for the same purpose.

One would be wrong in thinking, however, that those mini umbrellas can be hooked up to just any shoe; as it happens, they come with this pair, and are affixed to it. It's a fashion statement and not a solution to anything. So it doesn't really solve the problem that a good pair of boots can.

6. Tissue Dispenser

To those who are allergy-prone, you no longer have to lug around boxes of tissue to wipe all that annoying nasal discharge during allergy season. An enterprising Japanese individual solved this problem for you by inventing toilet paper that you can wear on your head!

It is, quite literally, toilet paper that one wears like a hat. You won’t have to carry boxes of tissue, but you’ll have people gaping their jaw with incredulity as you pass by, so if you don’t want to be stared at as though you just broke out of a mental facility, then perhaps a pocket-sized pack of Kleenex is a better option.

7. Umbrella Headband

You know what it’s like – you’ve got heavy shopping to carry home on a day with heavy rain. Well, what’s a girl to do?

You either distribute your heavy bags evenly between your two hands and get very drenched, or you carry the umbrella in one hand but with all the shopping bags in the other. You stay dry(ish) yes, but you have to do the arm swap thing between umbrella and shopping every two minutes before your arm falls off. Well not anymore!... once you’ve obtained the amazing and ultra cool looking umbrella headband/hat thingie. Problem solved!

8. Solar-Powered Cigarette Lighter

Fed up with having to remember to keep your boxes of matches out of the reach of your children? Worried about keeping vast quantities of dangerous lighter fuel sitting around your home? Or having said matches snap while striking them against the crappy box for the eleventh time?

Then why don’t you just take the solar option! Solar power is the future they say. Although this contraption doesn’t look very futuristic. It uses a magnifying glass to focus sunlight on the tip of your cigarette. It was a good intention that, unfortunately, took an awful long time to light anything up.

9. Mask for Proper Lipstick

This is definitely one of the weirder products in this list, which says a lot, considering what is actually on this list. It’s beyond our limited imagination that someone would think about inventing this, but here it is. It takes the simple act of applying lipstick to levels that were never known to have existed. 

While makeup stencils work great, this one looks like it won’t, i.e., unless your lips naturally line up perfectly with the cutout, and you don’t mind looking like Hannibal Lecter while you use it. It doesn’t help that it’s made of fabric, too, which will make the stains difficult to remove after even just a single use.

10. Tie With Pockets for Office Supplies

They say one can’t be too prepared. Some bring a utility knife wherever they go, while others bring more emergency supplies than seems necessary. Whatever the case may be, what’s certain is that preppers will love this unique tie design. It has pockets galore, giving quick access to anything someone might need.

It’s not such a bad idea if one didn't mind all that weight being concentrated around the neck. But people who like over-preparing seem to have better options available; there are all kinds of bags, or even jackets and the like, fitted with a multitude of pockets.

11. Helmet Holder for Metro Nappers

If you have a habit of falling asleep in metro or train while coming back home then this helmet is for you, just stick it to the window and wear the helmet and you are all set for that perfect train nap. The message board shows the station name for people to wake you up on time. (Message: Wake me up at station “…” – Thanks oj, Jessie and Marina)

12. Floor Cleaning Mop

Sure, they bring joy into the household. But that’s it. You can’t expect babies and pets to do household chores, because, why, that would be silly! Or would it? Definitely not to some industrious individual who designed these items so the otherwise less than useful members of our household can be made to pull their own weight.

Unfortunately, unless one washed these things often, your babies and fur-babies will be constantly insufflating all that dirt, redirecting any money saved in cleaning bills to be spent in the hospital. So skip this one and get a vacuum instead.

13. Hair Protector to Be Worn While Eating

Everyone loves a good bowl of ramen noodle soup. The savory and meaty broth always puts a smile on one's face. The spattering of liquid broth over areas other than the inside of one's mouth, however, can immediately turn that smile into a frown. This complication led to the invention of the noodle splash guard. And with it, unruly soup stock can now be a thing of the past.

While it no doubt works, it has the disadvantage of making one look like a lion flower from Alice in Wonderland. If one could get past the feeling of looking like a complete weirdo while eating soup, then this could be a product for you. Needless to say, there are better, less outlandish ways to achieve the same ends, like by refraining from slurping, or wearing a head band to protect your hair.

14. Cooling Fan for Noodles

Here’s another device for soup lovers. It’s a tiny fan mounted to a chopstick that removes the need to keep blowing on the soup to have it reach the desired temperature. If one doesn’t mind the inordinate amount of unwanted attention from the sound of the fan, than it might be the perfect soup buddy. Looking silly, after all, beats getting your mouth scorched by hot soup.

Unless the mounted fan were much lighter than it looked, however, it’s unlikely to work; by the looks of it, the weight of the device carries with it problems that dwarf the one it was designed to solve. If one were to accidentally drop that thing in the soup, they’d have noodles flying across the room. Why one would opt to use this device instead of, say, simply waiting for one’s soup to cool down is anyone’s guess.

15. Chin Rest

No one likes standing up for long periods of time, especially not on a packed train or subway. Your body begins to feel weary, and you’d love to just rest your chin on something… wait a minute – the Japanese have a solution!

Okay, so they might look totally ridiculous, but a chin rest is the invention we’ve all been dreaming of. You’ll also totally be able to keep your balance, which is pretty useful on a busy train.

16. Umbrella Tie

The weather is unpredictable. People who live in areas where there exists an increased possibility of getting drenched in the rain would do well to prepare for it. And what better way to prepare for unwanted rainstorms than by bringing an umbrella? If you've managed to reach the limits of your carrying capacity, don’t fret, because this one needn’t be carried.

The necktie design definitely has its benefits. It doesn’t take up much real estate, while also making a fashion statement. The disadvantage, however, is that in the event it does rain, then one is left with either skipping the use of a tie, or wearing a drenched one––neither one a good look inside the workplace. Collapsible umbrellas exist, leaving very little reason to use a necktie umbrella.

17. Dropper Glasses

While your baby proves his utility to everyone by mopping his way around the house, you can feel just as farcical, too, by wearing these glasses that solve the perennial problem of the constant flinching that causes eye droppers to miss their mark.

The device assures the droplets will be funneled to exactly where they need to be. Now, one could always opt to do it the normal way, and point the dropper directly at the corner of one's eye, but, hey, that would be boring.

18. The Step Dryer

If you have little time to prepare in the morning, and could do without all that time spent on drying your hair, then you’re in luck, because this invention can be just the thing for you.

Every step you take pushes air up into that shower cap-like thing that’s affixed to your head, drying your hair as you walk. Sure, people will avoid you like the Ebola virus, but who cares, you’ll be early for work, and your hair will dry in no time. Of course, if social ostracization is not your thing, then you could always wake up earlier, or shower the night before.

19. Finger Brush

Everyone’s rushing in the morning to get to work. From taking a shower to getting dressed up, to making coffee and breakfast if you’re lucky, and finalizing in your head what to say for that meeting later, there’s simply a lot one needs to remember in the morning as they prepare to leave the house. And this often leads to some forgetting to brush their teeth, which is a problem this item was designed for.

There is a huge market for hygienic portables such as this, with vending machines propping up selling items like toothpaste and floss. The market is growing to such a rate that a lot of companies now offer small and ultra-portable tooth brushes for individuals constantly on the move. Of course, one can use a conventional toothbrush, or even breath-mints, to achieve the same purpose.

20. Full Cover Umbrella

If you still use those traditional umbrellas then go visit Japan and buy your self this cool umbrella and forget about wetting yourself with a single drop of water. Go out in the rain and come back home dry. The only con is how would someone breath in it since it’s all covered?


  1. some of these are actually practical.

    1. These are examples of Chindōgu which is the art of creating a product whose usefulness is precluded by its absurdity:




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