Five bizarre made-in-Japan inventions

The Japanese are known for their bizarre inventions, but did you know that there's an official term coined for them?

Called Unuseless Japanese Inventions, or chindogu, it is the art of creating absurd products that may or may not work in real life.

Founded by Japanese designer and mail-order enthusiast Kenji Kawakami, there are rules to follow to produce a chindogu, such as the invention needs to be an everyday product that is useless but real.

Here are five interesting made-in-Japan inventions:

1. 'Anti-loneliness' hugging chair

Ever encountered one of those days when all you need is just a hug? A Japanese company has invented a chair with long arms that wrap around users for a comforting cuddle.

-- PHOTO: AFP

Designed for older people, the chair is built in the shape of a doll with a friendly face. The extended arms are intended to makes users feel safe.

The chair is priced at 46,000 yen (S$534) and is on display at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo. There is also a version adapted for wheelchair users.

2. Thumb extender

Human fingers are proving to be too stumpy to navigate the bigger-than-ever screens of the latest smartphones in the market.

To help overcome that problem, a Japanese company unveiled an invention to help phablet fans - a thumb extender named Yubi Nobiiru, which means "stretched finger".

-- PHOTO: AFP

The silicone-based life-like appendage adds an extra 1.5cm to the thumb, allowing users to navigate large-screen devices with just one hand.

A conductor at the tip of this hollow gadget, which costs 1,480 yen (S$17), ensures the screen registers its touch.

3. Portable soundproof room made of cardboard

-- PHOTO: VIBE

Those who want to have some quiet time amid the hustle and bustle of the office, or even in the middle of the busy city, may consider getting the Danbocchi - a portable, soundproof box made of cardboard.

Weighing only 34.4kg and measuring 80cm in width, 110cm in length and 164cm in height, the box is can be assembled or taken and packed up without requiring any tools, making it easy to be carried around anywhere.

The box acts as a private studio and features a ventilation system on the ceiling (also made of cardboard), a small table, enough space for a chair, and a hole for electric or network cables.

The Danbocchi is being sold in in Japan for 59,800 yen (S$695).

4. Upside-down desk

Have a backache and can't sit at your desk? Too tired to get out of bed to check Facebook and Twitter? The Gorone Desk was invented just for you.

-- PHOTO: THANKO

Japanese company Thanko created an inverted laptop stand that can allows users to strap their devices (up to 5kg) on it.

You can also use it to read magazines or books in bed, if you are worried that your laptop might fall on your face.

The stand costs between 5,980 and 7,980 yen (S$93), and comes with cooling fans which you can attach to an empty USB slot.

5. Be a cat

Cat lovers are now one step closer to understanding the feelings of their favourite felines.

Called Necomimi - a combination of Japanese words neko (cat) and mimi (ears) - the cat ears on a headband move and wiggle in response to your emotional state by reading your brainwaves.

According to Japanese company Neurowear, the ears will rise when you are concentrating and come down when you relax.

And to complete the look, the company, together with Kiluck Inc, created Shippo (tail in Japanese) - a tail that moves according to your mood.

Necomimi is on sale for US$69.99 (S$90). Shippo is still a prototype.