Chindōgu 珍道具 – The Japanese art of useless (Not always) inventions

Chindōgu 珍道具 (珍: rare, 道具: tool) is a Japanese art of inventing original devices that might help you with a very concrete purpose. The problem is that most of the times their purpose is so narrow that they are almost useless. One of the most famous chindōgu is this fan that can be attached to your chopsticks in order to cool noodles before entering your mouth. This chindōgu fan is useful if you are nekojita (Sensible to burning your tongue while eating)

An interesting fact is that the selfie-stick was invented by the Japanese in 1995 and at the very beginning it was a chindōgu. It appeared featured in a chindōgu title “101 useless inventions”.

I while ago I had the honor to meet Dr Nakamatsu, one of the most prolific Japanese inventors ever. He is also very creative when it comes to creating chindōgu. In this picture we are testing one of his last prototypes to attach smartphones to your wrist so you don’t have to continuously retrieve it from your pocket.

Tranquility

Last months I’ve been in search of tranquility. It was not easy, since the more I searched for it the farther away it seemed to be. Strangely, and I would say even magically, when I stoped pursuing tranquility in an active manner several events in my life fell just in the right place.

I can finally start feeling some kind of inner calm.

From now on I will do my best so I don’t pursue tranquillity again 😉

When the snow transports us to another dimension in Tokyo

When someone asks me: what is the best time to visit Japan? I’m very reluctant to give a clear answer since I’ve come to realize that Japan is beautiful in different ways depending on the weather and the season. Spring tints the landscape with sakura colors. During Summer, the rainy tsuyu gives everything a mysterious atmosphere. Un Autumn, it is the kouyou what makes Japan magic. But one of the most spectacular transformation happens in Winter when the snow covers more than half of Japan’s territory.

The Japanese snow was the main inspiration when Kawabata wrote his first novel Snow Country 雪国 Yukiguni. Later, he became the first Japanese write to receive the Nobel Prize. Not only Kawabata, the change that Japanese seasons cause in the landscape of cities and the countryside, has inspired artists since centuries ago. For example, haiku poems almost always have a reference to the time of the year or weather conditions.

Snow adds chaos to the tokyoites routine, who are used to everything working perfectly. When snow falls in Tokyo train become crazy and people’s behaviour changes (not necessarily in a good way 🙂 ). When the streets are covered by snow, the city is not only transformed in a superficial, I feel that I’m transported to a different Tokyo located in a parallel dimension.

There is a street I’ve known since more than 10 years ago. Today I’m walking through it and it feels like a new place. Why? I don’t know. It might be the tree that I never notice and now with the weight of the snow is tilting towards the street. It could also be the cables with their black contrasting with the white snow.

In a crossing near Harajuku there is a vending machine that I never noticed, but now the light from it reflects in a mysterious way on the night snow carpet below it. When I keep walking farther away from the station I see snowmen, many of them are trying to imitate the shape of Ghibli’s Totoro.

In the morning I decide to go to Meiji Jingu. When I enter this shrine I feel like I have totally abandoned the city, maybe I’m inside Kawabata’s Yukiguni 雪国.