20 Ingenious Inventions That You’ll Only Find In Japan

Image: machi-ya / via Levik

It’s amazing how technology makes life easier, even if it is only a little bit at a time. But in Japan, that ethos has been taken to a whole other level. Indeed, these genius inventions embody all that’s great about the modern world – finding efficient, effortless solutions to problems that you never even knew you had. We apologize in advance for the amount of money that you’re about to spend on importing all these awesome items…

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20. Burger napkins

Eating a burger in public can be pretty messy, especially considering how packed today’s meat-filled buns can be. In Japan, though, there’s an awesome solution for saving face – the burger napkin, which has a print of a mouth on its opposite side so you can chow down without shame.

Image: via Nexus Design Centre

19. Customizable floor mats

Doing things at floor level is a way of life in Japan, so anything to make that more comfortable is obviously welcome. However, we reckon that this customizable floor mat – which can fold into all manner of tables, desks, backrests and more – would be awesome pretty much anywhere.

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18. Umbrella lockers

Umbrellas are fantastic for keeping you dry outside, but bringing a soaking one indoors never ends well. Umbrella lockers are therefore the perfect solution: giving you somewhere to dry your umbrella without the risk of having it stolen. Why these aren’t commonplace everywhere, we’ll never know.

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17. Dinosaur receptionists

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Automation has never been so fun. After all, who wouldn’t want to be greeted at their hotel reception by an animatronic dinosaur? Indeed, it turns out that artificial intelligence isn’t all gleaming white androids. In the real world, it’s far more exciting – and far more Jurassic Park than I, Robot.

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16. House surnames

Getting house numbers mixed up is pretty easy – indeed, we’ve all probably received someone else’s mail by accident at some point. However, some homes in Japan simply have family surnames, instead of door numbers, on their fronts, which virtually eliminates that problem entirely and hopefully ensures that they’ll only ever receive the right letters.

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15. Cistern sinks

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Toilets can be pretty uneconomical, to the point that many people will try to conserve water by only flushing when really necessary. Japan, however, has solved that problem with these super-eco-friendly cistern sinks, which mean that you can use the water twice. Pure genius.

Image: Alexander Belenkiy via Macos

14. Fully automated stores

Sure, self-serve checkouts are becoming a lot more commonplace these days. But in Japan, there are whole stores where absolutely everything is automated, meaning that you never need interact with another human at all after going through their doors. Introverts, unite.

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13. Floor cushions

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Using your computer while lying on your stomach can make for tired arms. And let’s face it, your neck sometimes needs a bit of help, too, especially after supporting your head for long durations. So the floor cushion is basically a dream come true. In fact, we may just have to import one ourselves…

Image: via Hermitage Akihabara

12. Overhead tablet stand

Lying on your back, meanwhile, can also be problematic when using a tablet. As light as modern devices are, they’re still pretty heavy when you’re holding one up for long periods. Once again, though, Japan has the problem covered with an overhead stand on which to perch your iPad.

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11. Silent karaoke microphones

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Everyone loves belting out their favorite tunes in the shower, but sometimes you just can’t resist a good karaoke session outside the confines of your bathroom. It’s just a shame, though, that your neighbors can hear every cracked note through the walls.  No such problem in Japan, however, as silent karaoke microphones are totally a thing and enable you to sing to your heart’s content without annoying anyone nearby.

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10. Baby seats in public restrooms

Needing to use the restroom while out and about can be tricky when you’ve got a baby or a toddler in tow. In Japanese restrooms, though, there are special, wall-mounted seats on which you can place your offspring while you do your business. We just can’t believe nobody thought of it earlier.

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9. Ponytail-friendly helmets

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Helmet hair is the bane of every motorcyclist’s life, no matter their gender. Folks with ponytails probably have the most room to complain, though – so it’s little wonder that someone in Japan has come up with the perfect solution. It seems so obvious now…

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8. Rotating train seats

Let’s face it: nobody likes traveling backwards on trains. Sure, you might tolerate it, but if given the choice, forward-facing seats will always be preferred. In Japan, that’s an option no matter which direction the train is going in – thanks to rotating seats. Simply brilliant.

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7. Chin rests

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Rush hour on the subway can be a nightmare after work. After all, how many of us have fallen asleep standing up when there’s a total lack of available seats and proceeded to fall over due to a lack of balance? So we think this chin rest is a stroke of total genius – even if it is a little unwieldy.

Image: via Levik

6. Easy-open cans

Digging your fingernails under can ring pulls might just be the world’s most first-world problem. However, any little thing to make your life easier isn’t going to go amiss. Hence, the addition of a tiny ridge at the end of Japanese ring pulls is definitely a very good thing.

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5. Eye drop funnels

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There’s no denying that administering eye drops is one of the most uncomfortable things you’ll ever have to do. Next time, then, you may want to order one of these awesome funnels from Japan. It won’t make them feel any better, but it’ll at least make the process easier.

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4. Solar lighters

Sure, a solar lighter may just be a glorified magnifying glass stand, but its application is the real genius here. After all, if you really insist on harming both yourself and the environment with cigarettes, the least you can do is to be eco-friendly when lighting them.

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3. Hand choppers

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No doubt we’ve all had a close call with a knife and a chopping board at some point in our lives. And in that split second when your fingers performed the dance of death with a gleaming blade, we bet that you’d have given anything to have had this tool at your disposal.

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2. Umbrella ties

Is this the craziest, yet most practical, combination item ever imagined? It just might be. If you were to wear it, however, you’d have to hope that the rain only came down on your way home from the office. After all, nobody in their right mind would put a soaking wet umbrella back around their necks…

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1. Butter grater

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Of all the culinary inventions that you never knew you needed in your life, the butter grater must rank pretty high on the list. You can’t deny that it would make spreading far less of a hassle, though. In fact, toast would never be the same again with one.

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