Does it rock or suck? You decide: 7 useless things you’ll find everywhere in Japan

The quest for convenience in Japan’s led to some crazy inventions. And if something wasn’t invented in Japan, if it’s weird enough they’ll adopt it as their own.

A lot of stuff’s proper useless… at first glance. Sometimes, a product comes out that’s so useless it ends up being useful again. Why else would it still be on sale? Everything on our ‘sucks yet rocks’ list can be bought from Japan right now.

You’re gonna notice a theme as you scroll down. Everything on this list is office supplies, lifestyle goods, or beauty products. And in the Venn diagram of those 3 things, the overlap is clearly ‘office workers’. Those trendsetters and convenience lovers. This is all their fault.

Tissue box covers

Why they suck: The tissues are already covered. By a box. So we don’t know where this trend came from. Maybe if you don’t like the box design, sure. But if you need that many tissues, the design should be the last thing on your mind.

Can you blame the land of kawaii for embracing the tissue box cover? Guess we can’t. In the choice between ‘cute’ and ‘complicated’, visuals win every time. That’s how J-idols and K-pop seem to work, anyway.

Why they rock: Some of them are funny. Pulling tissues out of a cat’s head never gets old. And we heard that making someone laugh stops them sneezing.

Foot detox sheets (ashiura sheet)

Why they suck: …this is a joke, right? Stick pads to your feet, and they’ll suck toxins out of your legs overnight? Same logic as those warming underwear pads that give your butt a herbal steam. Plus, the colour at the end is… disgusting. Like, that came out of my foot?

Not all beauty treatments are based on science. Foot detox pads aren’t proven to work, so don’t rely on them. Some things have an effect, like face masks – and Japan sure loves those. But with weirder Asian beauty trends, it’s down to how hard you believe.

Why they rock: Hey, maybe this stuff has some effect on the body. We’ll find someone in the office brave enough to try them out.

Business card cases

Why they suck: 100-yen stores sell cases for everything you can think of. Train passes. Face masks. Bananas. Here in Japan, where meeting someone new involves telling them your life story, business card cases are everywhere.

If there’s space in your purse/wallet for business cards, carrying yet another case feels like overkill. Sure, the pocket size is handy – when you’re wearing an outfit with pockets. Drop the case in your bag without thinking, and you’ll never find it again. Not if it’s buried under all those banana holders…

Why they rock: There’s something business-y about using a card case. The metal, fabric and leather ones have that pro look. (Plastic, not so much…) So you’ve got a better chance of impressing people.

Colour-changing umbrellas

Why they suck: The colour changes on the outside – y’know, the bit that gets wet. The bit you can’t see, ’cause you’re staying out of the rain. Plus, watch a demo video, and you’ll see it takes lots of water to work. You’d need to hang around in a downpour to get it to change.

This one’s more of a global trend. But we’re talking about a country with its own word for ‘rainy season’.

Why they rock: Alright, we’ll admit it’s a clever idea. The colour/design change looks cool to people around you. It might even make you wanna go out in the rain more often.

Clear files

Why they suck: There’s no way to keep a clear file closed – not completely. And if you need something that holds more than 6 sheets of paper, you’re outta luck.

Whenever new character goods come out in Japan, they’re almost certain to include a clear file. They come as free gifts at events, and as part of the random mix of stuff in lucky bags. Kei-chan owns at least 7.

Why they rock: Most clear files aren’t clear (can’t see through them). They’ve got designs on both sides – cute ones, anime ones, fun ones.

Bottle cap straw holders

Why they suck: The step up from sippy cup to independent drinking’s a big one. Chugging straight from the bottle shows you’ve mastered a delicate art. Cute bottle caps with handy straws say something about the person using them – ‘I can’t be trusted with liquids’.

For anyone older than about… 8 years old, not a great look.

Why they rock: Stumble while taking a sip, and there are 2 ways it could go. Soaked clothes, or bubbles up your nose. Unless you’ve got one of these. Straw bottle caps can be bought at 100-yen stores, so if you trash it by accident it’s easy to buy another.

Fun erasers

Why they suck: Like how cute that eraser looks? Guess you’re never using it, then.

There’s a whole series of Japanese fun erasers called ‘omoshiro keshigomu’ (おもしろ消しゴム). We’ll give you 3 guesses what that translates to. They’re shaped like foods (so many. so so many.), cars and trains, animals,

Why they rock: Some series of little fun erasers are like collectibles. We’ve seen sets go for thousands of yen on Yahoo! Auctions Japan.

For when you’re not sure if you should laugh or cry

Imagine a new, weirdly useful invention, and chances are Japan’s already made it (or tried to patent it). Go ahead, take a look on our website.

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