Why didn't I think of that?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 1995, 12:00am

Not all of the ideas which come from the country that gave the world karaoke and vending machines for knickers are as useful. Sock mops for cats, a plastic hair guard for messy eaters, umbrellas for shoes: these are chindogu and they conform to strict rules - the first being that they are (almost) completely useless. A New book, 101 Un-useless Japanese Inventions, available from South China Morning Post Family Bookshops, celebrates the art of invention.

Duster slippers for cats For feline assistance with tedious housework.

Now the most boring job around the house becomes hours of fun - for your cat! With these dust dislodging foot socks, cats can play their part in easing the pressure of domestic chores. Lazy cats are, of course, much less productive than excitable ones but this problem may be overcome if you introduce a dog into the house.

Table Groomer's Hand Makes discretion the better part of oral hygiene.

A common problem encountered when dining in company is the small food particle lodged between the teeth. The traditional approach to this dilemma of social form is to attempt to remove the debris with the fingers of one hand, while masking your action with the other. This has never been satisfactory as it leaves no hands free for the kind of social behaviour - eating and gesticulating - that would best disguise the unpleasant events. So we bring you the Table Groomer's Hand, a moulded silicon facsimile which can be used to shield your clandestine cleaning activities. It is held by a knob that fits between the fingers, yet leaves those same fingers freedom of movement to pick at the offending morsel. Meanwhile your other (real) hand is free for emphasis, coffee drinking or playing games, whatever the occasion demands.

Hay-fever Hat The all-day tissue dispenser.

Having hay fever is bad enough but running out of hankies turns misfortune into misery. So don't run out! The Hay-fever Hat supports a large loo roll, enough to cope with heavy blowing and incessant sneezing from dawn till dusk.

Umbrella Shoe Savers Extends the life of expensive footwear.

The conventional umbrella offers proportionately decreasing protection from precipitation for the lower parts of the body. The latest in the chindogu range of improved umbrella technology goes right where you need it most - on the long-suffering shoe. The mini canopies have a 30 centimetre diameter guaranteed to keep the rain off the full front of foot area.

Note: the generous width of the umbrellas means that care must be taken when walking not to bring the feet too close together.

Cockroach Swatting Slippers For longer range and greater accuracy.

Research has shown that the slipper is the preferred instrument for indoor cockroach swatting, used by 80 per cent of householders. So why not improve your hit rate by investing in a pair of Swatting Slippers? With their telescopic handles, they are ideal for those who can't - or won't - get too close to their quarry.

Hairy Ego Booster Leave home without hair but with confidence.

The bald man's psychological dilemma is complex. To wear a wig or hairpiece would be to admit to friends and colleagues that your patial deficit bothers you. Yet wouldn't it be nice to look in the mirror every morning and see a man with a lovely head of hair? Well, now you can. The Hairy Ego Booster is an adjustable crop of real hair designed to stand between you and your mirror to produce the illusion that you are endowed with an impressive mane.

Vertigo Soothing Glasses Keep solid ground in sight.

Today's high-rise office blocks can strike terror into the hearts of the vertigo suffering salaryman. So what do you do when career advancement means a move to the 40th floor? The Vertigo Soothing Glasses can't bring you down to earth but they can bring the earth up to eye level.

Note: some vertigo sufferers may find the problem of not being able to see their feet a high price to pay.

Walk 'n' Wash Makes washing day a stroll in the park.

It's a beautiful sunny day and you'd like to go for a walk, but you really ought to be doing the laundry ... well, now you can do both. The Walk 'n' Wash comprises a pair of polythene tanks, one for each leg, with the capacity to hold two litres of laundry and water. You can wash on the right leg and rinse on the left, or vice versa. And the weight of the tanks turns walking into a workout, making this a triple-barrelled chindogu.

Daddy Nurser Lets dad experience the joys of motherhood.

This chindogu challenges one of the last bastions of sexual inequality and allows dad to experience the joy of feeding his baby from his own body ... almost.

Hydrophobe's Bath Bodysuit Take a bath without getting wet.

The benefits of a dry bath are considerable. No need to undress. No need to dry, talc up and re-dress. You can experience all the warmth, comfort and therapeutic relaxation of the conventional bath but without the wetness. You can get out of the bath and surround yourself with the cool air of the bathroom without the chill factor that affects the wet and naked.

Note: don't soak too long as resulting excessive perspiration may require the remedy of a wet bath.

Commuter's Helmet For secure subway snoozing.

The Commuter's Helmet sports a message to fellow travellers which reads, 'I'm having a short nap. Could you please wake me up when I reach the stop printed below. Many thanks.' Since it depends entirely on the co-operation of fellow passengers for success, this chindogu has been designed to maximise their goodwill. The suction cup on the back of the helmet keeps the head firmly in place, thus preventing the sleeper's head from lolling intrusively on the shoulders or laps of his or her neighbours.

The Noodle Eater's Hair Guard Helps rapid lunchers protect expensive coiffeur.

The samurai hairstyle may have been an ancient and artful solution to the problem of maintaining follicular hygiene at mealtimes. However, fashion has changed and this age-old problem has returned. The modern solution is the Noodle Eater's Hair Guard. In stylish candy pink moulded plastic, it fits neatly into briefcase or handbag.