30 hilariously weird Japanese inventions
They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, but some of these inventions didn’t quite get it right. While they might have fulfilled an intended purpose, they left some room for improvement. Japan is known for being a very innovative country full of brilliant minds, but even the best of us have some off days, right?
1. Splash guard
Noodles are delicious; nobody can deny that. Their wonderful salty savoriness is a delight any time of day, but what isn’t a delight is getting splashed with noodle juice. That’s why someone went and invented this ingenious noodle splash guard. Wayward broth won’t be a worry anymore, this product will see to that.
Unfortunately, this bizarre device also makes you look like one of the lion flowers from Alice in Wonderland. While the idea might appeal to some, there are better ways to keep broth out of your face and your hair out of your food. We recommend not slurping and using a hair tie.
2. Cool off
While we’re on the subject of soup, let’s take a look at this device. As someone who tends to blow on their soup until they’re dizzy, I’m kind of a fan of this idea. It’s a chopstick-mounted fan. It’s definitely odd, but it’s not a bad idea in theory. Would you rather look ridiculous or get scalded with nuclear-hot chicken stock?
Unfortunately, the weight of the fan is likely to throw off the balance of the chopsticks. If you’re not careful, you might drop one and send your noodles, rice, or chicken flying across the room. It’s a clever solution, but you might be better off blowing on your food or dare I say it — wait for your food to cool down.
3. Stick it to ’em
Maybe soup isn’t your preferred food. Perhaps you’re more of a “carbs and fat” kind of person. If that’s the case, we’re sure you’ve encountered the blunder of trying to spread butter onto soft bread, only to have it tear your bread to pieces, covering the knife in crumbs.
If that’s the case, you could always try using butter in stick form. No, not rectangular sticks; we mean this weird chapstick kind of contraption. Alternatively, you can probably still find butter spray somewhere. We suggest above all else buying spreadable butter or using the cup trick to soften a stick.
4. Allergy season
For some of us, springtime means hundreds of daily trips to the tissue box. When you’re on the go, that might not always be an option. Sound familiar? Well, Japan has you covered with this cunning invention. Never worry about carrying around tissue boxes again by wearing a roll of toilet paper!
You heard me right. Toilet paper. On your head. Okay, so maybe it isn’t the best invention, but it is unique. Alternatively, you could avoid soggy sheets in the rain and stares from passers-by by carrying around a pocket pack of Kleenex instead. Or not. Just a thought.
5. Eyes in the back of your head
While we’re on the subject of weird things to put on your head, let’s talk about this contraption. Have you ever tried to take a panoramic shot, only to find that the photos don’t stitch together well? It’s a problem that has plagued society for decades, but thanks to advanced gadgetry, not anymore.
The idea of a 360-degree camera halo is undoubtedly intriguing, but is it the best idea? Back when disposable cameras were vacation necessities, maybe, but nowadays, most people have smartphones. Most camera apps have seamless panorama-stitching, and some support 360 interactive photos. This solution is smart but outdated, however, it still makes a fashion statement.
6. I see you!
Umbrellas come with all sorts of wacky designs. Some look like animals, some are wild colors, and others have eyes cut out of them. Don’t you hate when it’s raining too hard to tip your umbrella back far enough to see what’s in front of you? Having to choose between getting soaked and being able to see kind of defeats the purpose of the umbrella.
As ingenious as this design is, we hate to tell the inventor that someone already took their idea a step further by creating fully transparent umbrellas. They allow you to see in all directions while staying dry. Having umbrella goggles is pretty great, though it makes looking around more of a hassle.
7. Collector’s item
Who doesn’t love multitasking? If you live where the rain falls straight down and the drinking water is too expensive, this one inventor has the gadget for you! An inverted umbrella functions as a rainwater collector, and it comes complete with a storage reservoir for easy access to the water later.
It’s not a bad idea on the surface, but when you think about all the pollution in the air that gets carried down to the surface in rainwater, the concept begins to sound less appealing. Between that and the weight of carrying the basin, we think we’ll stick with bottled water.
8. Staying dry (and fashionable)
If you live somewhere rainy like Tokyo or Seattle, you’ll probably find yourself carrying around an umbrella more often than not. Even on days when there’s no rain in the forecast, life has taught you to be skeptical, so you bring one. Instead of just carrying it, why not wear it?
This umbrella necktie is certainly a unique solution and allows for free hands, but we can’t imagine how heavy it must feel compared to other ties. When it inevitably does rain and you have to use it, you’re left with either no tie or a wet one, which isn’t ideal if you’re heading to work. Instead, get a collapsible umbrella.
9. Hidden pockets
Some people like to be prepared at all times. Whether that means carrying a utility knife, having a purse full of emergency supplies, or inventing a necktie that holds everything imaginable, people will go to great lengths to make it happen. The utili-tie keeps everything easily within arms reach.
Other than getting weighed down by scissors, cash, cards, pens, and whatever else you try to cram into this wannabe Bag Of Holding, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. For the conventionalists in the crowd, we suggest a briefcase, purse, or fanny pack (if you really must). Many jackets and coats also already have hidden pockets in the lining.
10. Compromise suits you
Taking a break from the totally goofy inventions for a moment, let’s talk about an innovative approach to footwear that looks funny but isn’t all that bad. The past ten years have seen a transition toward minimalist footwear, yes. Sock-like sneakers are all the rage these days. But some of the shoes, like the FiveFingers, look super weird.
These wraparound shoes, as strange as they may seem, actually have a good deal of function behind their form. They’d make great yoga or light walking shoes or even a replacement for slippers. The market for them might be niche, but unlike most of the other items in this article, they aren’t a total bust.
11. Umbrella shoes
Keeping shoes protected from the elements isn’t a new trend. There are countless inventions on the market that keep your kicks water-free. There are clear bags that can be zipped over your shoes while you wear them, and there are shoes for your shoes. The shoes featured below keep themselves dry!
Unfortunately, the umbrellas don’t port from shoe to shoe as you may expect, but they sure are… Stylish? Maybe not, but they’re an interesting concept anyway. Instead of splurging on umbrella shoes, we suggest dressing for the weather. If it’s wet out, wear boots and pack the shoes for later.
12. Sweep your toe
Have you ever wanted to kill two birds with one stone and clean the floor while you cook, do other chores, or just walk around the house? Two words: dustpan shoes. The idea is pretty solid. You drop something while in the kitchen and don’t want to bend over to sweep or pick it up, so you use your feet. The next part is tough.
You’d have to hop to a trash can and empty the dustpan without spilling, which would be a challenge. We’d recommend using a regular dustpan and broom (or one of those sweeping collectors that gets built into your counters). Alternatively, you could buy a Roomba and go eat some popcorn.
13. Put them to work
Some people say that everyone in the house ought to pull their weight. For babies and pets, finding a purpose isn’t always easy, or it hadn’t been until now. Someone provided us with the technology to strap dusting cloths to our babies and fur-babies so they could finally contribute.
Aside from having to wash these cloths frequently to avoid your pet or child from inhaling lots of dust, these sweepers have some design drawbacks. Every dog we’ve ever seen forgets how to walk when you put anything on their feet, so we aren’t sure how well these would work. Babies are either climbing where they shouldn’t or asleep, so that might not work either. We suggest a vacuum.
14. Pour eyes
Your pets and children don’t have to have all the fun of wearing ridiculous things. You can get in on the action, too, with these funnel glasses to help administer eye drops. We know how hard it can be to stare up into a droplet as it’s about to fall, and how hard it is not to cringe away and cause the droplet to miss its target.
This way, you can put the drops of water in the funnel and let them slowly make their way down to the bottom before dropping into your eyes when you least expect it. You could also put the drops in the corners of your eyes and blink, but where’s the fun in that?
L’Oreal Kids shampoo isn’t the only thing that’ll keep you tear-free (or have I been reading that wrong all these years, too). These fashionable glasses use tiny fans to keep the onion vapors at bay so that you can slice and dice without bawling your eyes out.
There are lots of hacks for avoiding onion tears. The tears are the result of syn-propanethial-S-oxide, which is released when you cut an onion and stimulates the glands in your eyes that produce tears. You could try any of the countless hacks out there, or you could cut away and embrace a good cry.
16. Fogging up the windows
Get your mind out of the gutter; we didn’t mean like that. This invention is meant for the habitual starers and perpetual non-blinkers in the world. While that seems like a pretty niche market, pay attention to how often you blink next time you’re at your computer (so, now).
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this invention. It works, but it’s an over-engineered solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. Sure, dry eye is a thing, but some blink-inducing glasses won’t help with that. We suggest that you try eye drops instead or just step away from the screen for awhile.
Heads are meant for wearing things, obviously, so why not make what we put on our noggins functional? There are lots of designs out there for head massagers, but the vast majority of them require effort to use, and nobody has time for that. That’s why one inventor stepped in.
This head massager requires no effort on the user’s part beyond placing it on their head. Does it look silly? Yeah, it does, but if it means getting a scalp massage, who cares, right? For those of you who are more self-conscious about your appearance, try a wire head scratcher.
18. Stepping up
Time is of the essence when you want to look like a goddess (or god) and still get to work on time. Morning showers take up a big part of most people’s pre-work schedule, and there isn’t always time for a blow dry after washing hair. That’s why someone invented this dryer-on-the-go.
You may look like a walking lab project, but don’t let the haters get you down. The bellows under your name-brand shoes push air through to dry your hair as you walk. Talk about efficiency. Alternatively, you could shower at night or take the leap and go bald.
19. Counting every step
Tracking our bodily output is all the rage these days. Whether you wear a pedometer, a heart rate monitor, a FitBit, or some other smart device that harvests data about your biological process, you’re part of the fad. Why be ordinary, though? Why not track your saved taxi fare instead of just how many steps you’ve taken?
This device takes the place of a regular pedometer to count your steps, calories burned, and how much you saved by walking instead of taking a taxi. It’s definitely an interesting mix of information, but we feel like a regular pedometer is a whole lot less Big Brother-esque, and more useful.
While we’re going over speed aesthetics, this little disaster deserves at least an honorable mention. We aren’t sure who would actually use it or whose lips are composed of triangles like this, but it was obviously created with someone in mind. This device takes coloring to a new level.
Makeup stencils are a product you can buy and use with great results, especially when applying eyeshadow. What makes this one inferior to its plastic counterparts is that it appears to be made of fabric, and doesn’t line up properly with your lips. Anyone who had ever tried to get makeup stains out of shirts knows exactly why that’s a horrible idea.
21. Squeaky clean
That morning rush gets us all eventually. You grab your clothes, your glasses, maybe shove some toast in your mouth on the way out the door, and halfway to work, you realize you forgot to brush your teeth. That’s what a pocket-size finger toothbrush is just perfect for.
Some places even have vending machines that sell hygiene essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. Mainstream toothbrush companies have also taken advantage of the portable market to give people tiny toothbrushes for use on the go. We still recommend just brushing at home. As an alternative in a pinch, you can try breath strips or gum.
22. Catch some Zs
While we’re discussing the trials and tribulations of the morning commute, let’s talk about something we can all understand: Not getting enough sleep. When you don’t have to drive to work, it’s easier to catch some sneaky shut-eye, but you’ve got to be clever. Most peopel aren’t able to fall asleep standing up without assistance.
We aren’t sure that any of these devices are patented, but we can sure appreciate the ingenuity behind them. Plenty of nap devices have been engineered over the years. While these won’t be getting any style points, they definitely seem functional, and when you need every second of sleep you can get, that’s what counts.
23. Pillow talk
Taking yet another page out of the diary of the average nine-to-five worker who didn’t get enough sleep, we find this gem. The look says it all: “It’s too early, I haven’t had my coffee, and I don’t want to be here.” We can all understand. This invention certainly looks like a more comfortable way to sleep on the go than the ones above.
When you have to leave your bed but nobody said the bed had to leave you, just wear one of these pillow hoods. We could tell you several other ways to get more sleep, but you’ve probably already heard them and are too tired to care. Just go take a nap.
24. Bubble wrap simulator
Humans love to keep their hands active and occupied with a mindless object. Why else would the fidget spinner have seen such abundant success in recent years? If you’ve ever had the need to twirl a pencil, curl your hair, twiddle your thumbs — AND you share the love of popping bubble wrap with thousands of others — this is the device that meets all your needs.
The pocket-sized electronic bubble wrap keychain toy was designed to meet the needs of the obsessive-compulsive child in all of us. Simply depress any of the soft, squishy buttons on the square and satisfy your ears to the sounds of a reenacted POP! noise. Just read a sample from a satisfied customer:
“It works great. Just as described. There is also a surprise sound every 100 or so clicks.” -Anonymous Amazon user
It’s possible the surprise could be the realization of how much time is being wasted.
25. Bzz bzz
Do you sleep through your alarms? Do you need reminders at work for your meetings but aren’t allowed to have a ringer on? Well, gosh! Thank goodness someone invented these earbuds that will vibrate on a timer! That’s right, they’re here to rattle your brains on command.
A step up (maybe) from the good old-fashioned pager, these little dodads will convince your boss that you’re listening to music instead of doing your work and probably make your ears itch for hours after they go off. We’d recommend just setting a silent alarm instead, or setting an alarm to your phone’s vibrate function.
26. Stylin’ in silence
Perhaps you’re the type of person who loves to get dressed up and go out to the club or to concerts, but the music is always too loud. Conventional earplugs only ever seem to come in those unsightly neon shades. Fortunately for you, someone designed these trendy earplugs that double as earrings.
While we can think of several reasons why this is a weird idea, the biggest one is probably that anyone who gets close enough to you will see the gold chain leading into your ear and immediately question your sanity. We suggest going on Amazon and buying some neutral-tone earplugs instead.
27. B2: That’s the spot!
Sometimes, as much as we like to make fun of ridiculous inventions, we have to stop and marvel at the cleverness behind certain designs. Take this shirt and diagram set, for example. Trying to describe to someone where an itch is on your back is a real pain, but this makes it easier.
We could suggest the alternative of one of those extendable back scratchers or a devoted friend, but honestly, this shirt is pretty great. If you have a chronically itchy back, you might want to see a doctor, but also, you probably should pick up one of these shirts.
As far as useless items go on this list, this particular invention quite possibly takes the cake. Its sole purpose is to press three keys at once: Ctrl+Alt+Del. You know the trio. We’re guessing it was cobbled together by someone working in IT who’d had enough of people being unable to figure it out.
Needless to say, this device is not something you’d probably have lying around at the office, but if you did, it would be pretty great for a flourish to make a point. In lieu of this space-hogging device, we suggest instead that you use your fingers, toes, or neighbor’s fingers.
29. Computer lounge
While we’re on the subject of computer woes, we’re sure most people reading this have experienced the aches that come with trying to use a laptop while lying on the floor. That searing pain across the chest and piercing ache along your spine is no joke. It’s awful, but fortunately, someone has a fix for it.
Most people just find a pillow or two and shove them underneath their chest to prop up their torso, but someone else decided that what needed to happen was the invention of this little device: a cushioned incline for your chest. At least it’ll hold its shape better than a pillow, and is probably more comfortable.
30. Chop chop!
Last but not least, let’s tackle an obstacle in the kitchen that most of us are doomed to confront sooner or later: Fingers. Yes, many of us have them, some of us lose them, and nearly all of us who had them at some point cut them. What to do? You could make sure to slow down and be careful as you chop, or you could use this device.
In the kitchen, knives pose a real threat. While chopping and holding down your food, why risk your own hand? You could get a plastic replica hand to hold the food for you, you could get a mesh glove, or you could watch some YouTube videos on knife safety. Your choice.