Chindōgu: The art of the “unuseless” idea. As a Wikipedia entry (with “multiple issues”) puts it:
Chindōgu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, chindōgu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever. Thus, chindōgu are sometimes described as “unuseless” – that is, they cannot be regarded as “useless” in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called “useful.”
I cam across chindōgu in a July 24 AdWeek post about a Kickstarter spoof (“Thingstarter”) for a product called Tiny Diapers for the Tip of Your Penis™:
This parody by comedy-writer group Above Average (and writers The Bilderbergers and director Ben Weinstein) is the best example I’ve seen of American chindogu. Chindogu is the Japanese word for an everyday gadget that seems to be an ideal solution for an annoying problem but would cause so much embarrassment to use that it’s essentially useless. Given that these tiny diapers have tiny leg holes, they are exceedingly useless.
“Are Tiny Diapers associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome? Unfortunately, yes.”
Chindōgu was coined by the Japanese inventor Kenji Kawakami (born 1946) from the Japanese words chin (unusual) and dōgu (tool). Kawakami went on to found the International Chindōgu Society, whose current president is Dan Papia.
9. Chindogu cannot be patented
Chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world - they are not therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned. As they say in Spain, mi Chindogu es tu Chindogu.
See also: Rube Goldberg.