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The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions Paperback – April 17, 2005
"Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It"
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About the Author
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a celebrity chef, television personality, journalist, food writer, and "real food" campaigner. He promotes a back-to-basics philosophy with regards to cooking.
Dan Papia is a translator. He also heads the chapter of the International Chindogu Society based in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
Rube Goldberg founded the modern era of humorous inventions in the US, and Heath Robinson did the same in the UK, in the first half of the 1900s. Even now, "Rube Goldberg contraptions" call to mind not only his cartooning style but his inventive wit.
The genre simplified and expanded with Jacques Carelman's The Catalogue of Fantastic Inventions (St. Martins, 1984), and Steven M. Johnson's What the World Needs Now (Ten Speed, 2001). David E. H. Jones takes a decidedly more scientific, less cartooned approach in The Inventions of Dædalus (Freeman, 1982) and The Further Inventions of Dædalus (Oxford University Press, 1999).
When the genre twisted and turned to Japan, it developed into Chindogu. If a humorous invention serves a real, everyday purpose ... but not well; if it is actually made and photographed; if its humor is a byproduct of solving a problem ... then it may be "chindogu". See [...] A bento box is a multi-purpose lunchbox, but that concept is the merest appetizer for these.
200 inventions fill 300 pages in this charming full-color compendium. Many are in classes by themselves, such as the nail-polish dryer for 5 fingers at once. But certain issues recur:
* Attach mops to crawling babies, pets, and shoes.
* Portable signage allows you to unroll a zebra-crosswalk at a convenient place in the road; to put a women's-restroom sign over a men's; and to mark parking space lines around your car, wherever you leave it.
* An extra hand can cover your mouth politely; hold veggies perilously close to a cutting knife; and even help count fingers.Read more ›
Expect to giggle quite a bit perusing this book, and here are a few of my particular favorites:
* Diet dishes - rice bowls cut in half with a mirror inserted to make them seem like full bowls, marketed with the tagline "Satisfy your hunger with a culinary optical illusion".
* Portable subway straps - straps hung on a suction cup that you would place on the ceiling of a particularly crowded subway car. I could easily see using this on BART during rush hour.Read more ›
The word "chindogu" was appropriated for these inventions as it is Japanese for "odd or distorted tool." That is a perfect description of these items. There are too many for me to list, but all are beautifully explained and illustrated. Some of my favorites include: "Duster Slippers For Cats," in which housecats don dustmops on their paws to assist with household chores (the illustration is priceless); "The Noodle Eater's Hair Guard," which is the silly pink contraption on the cover; "The Back Scratcher's T-Shirt" (which is not only funny, it borders on a good idea); the "Portable Subway Strap" (for those who enjoy holding onto a plunger affixed to the roof of a train); and the "Ear Extender," which gets my vote for best decorative headgear made from colanders.
This is a funny book, and is beautifully rendered in color throughout. The only warning I have is that if you read this in long sittings, eventually you may find yourself saying "Hey, that's a pretty good idea!" (I had this thought when looking at the "Butterstick.") I recommend this book to lovers of the odd and obscure everywhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Funny funny funny! If you've never seen this book, you have to look through it. It's hilarious. Couldn't stop laughing. Got this last year as a gift and bought one for a friend.Published 1 month ago by W. Shigeta
Hilarious book. Great as a gift for someone or just have as an entertaining read for yourself.Published 6 months ago by Heather Obasare
I bought this for my Mom and I've never seen her laugh as much as when she was reading this. A great gift for your Asian friends in particular since they will get it.Published 9 months ago by P. G Lee
Bought this as a joke gift. My niece loved it. We had a lot of fun looking through it!Published 12 months ago by Robin R