Weird Japanese Inventions (Chindogu) Featuring Food


An invention to keep from splattering your clothes and hair with broth as you slurp your noodles. Also worthwhile if you want your friends to think you are a flower.

Chindogu are Japanese inventions intended to assist with life’s everyday little problems. But that’s not the extent of the genre. The idea is that the implementation of the solution is so cumbersome, that the invention itself becomes the problem. It’s a real conundrum. A recently published book by Kenji Kawakami entitled 101 Useless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu provides color photos. At Fork in the Road, we’re primarily interested in the ones involving food. Following are a few more hilarious food-related chindogu.

While Americans are sometimes grossed out when a fish is served with the head still on, Japanese are apparently freaked at cutting the fish head off during preparation, hence this modesty shield to go over the head. Of course, if someone sees you using this, they’ll think you are insane.

Picking your teeth in public is a no-no, and shielding your mouth with the other hand means that it takes two hands to pick your teeth properly. This invention provides a realistic-looking (except for a strange pallor) hand, attached to your picking hand, so you can pick your teeth with only one hand. The idea of discretion entailed by tooth-picking etiquette flies completely out the window when you use this thing, and you might as well be picking your nose in public.

This page features two food-related chindogu: on the left is a soup-cooling fan, intended to relieve you of the necessity, for cooling purposes, of loudly slurping as you eat noodles; on the right is a device that encourages a more methodical and easeful buttering of bread. Presumably, you could also use it as lube.

If you’re a peasant, it’s a drag carrying all the cultivation tools you need into the fields every day. Here’s the solution: all the tools configured as a humongous Swiss Army Knife. The only trouble is, people that see you carrying it will think it is a giant Swiss Army Knife being carried by a criminally crazy person, and run away from you. If will certainly guarantee you a seat on the bus.

All photos courtesy