Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dr. NakaMats

If you are not familiar with Japan you may not know that it is home to the most renowned inventor of our time, Yoshiro Nakamatsu aka Dr. NakaMats. A man who embodies the spirit of Japanese innovation and creative thinking. He lives to create.Winner of the 2005 Ig Nobel Peace Prize, world record holder, Japanese national treasure, creator of the floppy disc, a living God! A man whose creative process defies logic! In fact, most things that come out of Dr. NakaMats mouth defy logic.

He claims to be the world record holder for the highest number of patents, more than 3,000 of them! Thomas Jefferson himself only obtained 1,093. However I don't think that Dr. NakaMats has been made aware that he's actually been beaten three times over by none other than, Shunpei Yamazaki, another Japanese inventor and true holder of the current title in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Dr. NakaMats spends his days and nights nurturing his "creative process" which involves a balance between five basic elements: spirituality, food and drink, muscle training, sleep and sex. These five elements are also his key to longevity. At the ripe old age of eighty two years old Dr. NakaMats believes himself to be a middle-aged man, claiming he will live to be one hundred and forty four years old. He also believes that sleeping more than six hours in a twenty four hour period decreases human brain function so in turn only sleeps an average of four hours per twenty four hour period. I say it in this way because NakaMats doesn't sleep at night. His creative spirit seems to come alive between the hours of midnight and four in the morning. He is, however, a huge advocate of the power nap which he frequently takes in his Cerebrex. An invention of his own and not to be confused with Professor X's Cerebro. The Cerebrex may look like an ordinary recliner with an added head covering but do not be fooled! NakaMats claims that the Cerebrex offers a "130% increase of all power" meaning it improves brain function by cooling the head and warming the feet. This guy, however, looks like he's on the verge of death or is possibly already deceased.

Dr. NakaMats method of invention is a very involved process as you can imagine. Not only does he believe that this lack of sleep is good for his creative thinking he also has this rather extreme idea that his best inventions come in the moments when he is closest to death. To achieve this scenario he repeatedly dives into his swimming pool recording his most innovative creations with his special pad of paper and pencil in hand, also an invention of his. He holds his breath for as long as possible until he is only a half second from death and an idea bubbles up. He claims that humans benefit from lack of oxygen to the brain. Dr NakaMats says that "An idea comes instantly and disappears instantly". And that is his "underwater invention method."

In addition to all of that lack of oxygen and sleep Dr. NakaMats also only eats one meal a day and has been photographing these meals for the past forty years. He then takes blood tests after each meal analyzing the samples against "32 items" and claims to have found the 55 best types of food. It was this achievement which earned him his 2005 Ig Nobel Peace Prize. For those of you who don't know, the Ig Nobel Peace Prize is actually an American Parody of the real thing. Nonetheless Dr NakaMats seemed quite honored to receive this award and exclaimed "Long life should be longer. Speech should be short."

NakaMats claims that the spirit of invention comes from love. His career began when he was only five years old. He created a landing stabilizer for his model airplane. At the age of fourteen his mother was having trouble pouring soy sauce from a large container to a small serving bowl so he came up with this pump to make life "easier" for her. Since this time he has created a truly amazing amount of inventions. I'll leave it up to you as to whether or not they're useful or not.

One of my favorites is the "Self Defense Wig". He has pretty much taken an ordinary wig and attached a line and weight onto it. The idea is that if you're being attacked and have no weapon for self defense you can rip the wig off and swing it at your attacker, thus scaring him off. I however do not believe this to be one of his most effective inventions but I do find it absolutely hilarious when demonstrated. 

He has also invented the "PyonPyon" jumping shoes. They are meant to improve athletic performance and stride while running and looks like a lot of fun! House of Pain had the honor of being accompanied by Dr. NakaMats on stage wearing his jumping shoes during their performance of "Jump Around" in Japan back in the 90's.

Another one of his footwear items is the revolutionary "Ninger". NakaMats believes that this is the future of everyday transportation and has created an environmentally friendly "fuel cell" to power it. If you ask me it looks suspiciously like a boot glued on to a remote control monster truck, but again, I'll let you be the judge.

NakaMats also claims to have invented the synthesizer, Karaoke, CD's and DVD's, the digital watch and, yes, even the floppy disk. As his story goes, he invented the floppy when he was in college back in the 50's but it took 35years to hit the market. He alleges that IBM has purchased 16 of his patents but I've discovered conflicting reports both flat out denying his statement or that IBM bought him off to avoid any conflict.

NakaMats Has also created an entire line of nutrient supplements, drinks and snacks claiming them to be "brain enhancing foods". He's created varieties of crackers, brain enhancing teas and even his own line of curry which is packed with "nano particles".

The good Doctor is also very concerned with Japan's problem of a decreasing population. NakaMats states "Men are not good, so women aren't satisfied". Hoping to promote fertility and increase the countries birth-rate he came up with his infamous "Love Jet", a series of spray on sex aids that seems to blow Viagra out of the water. He says he has tested it on over 10,000 women! Quickly adding that he has not actually had sex with them but has simply run tests. He has also created a condom that increases sexual arousal. It's pretty much a regular condom with an embedded magnet in the tip. 

Dr. NakaMats definitely lives an interesting life. He sleeps and eats very little so you have to wonder what he does with all of that time. Can he really be creating 20 hours a day?! You bet. This guys house is a revolutionary fortress dedicated to his process of invention. The house is energy self-sufficient with a multitude of rooms to help you relax or to stimulate your senses and brain function. He has a million dollar bathroom which is entirely gold-plated which he claims shuts out all noise as well as magnetic and electronic fields. He also has a "static room" for free thinking and a "dynamic room" for refining his ideas. He believes that ones surrounding environment is critical when inventing. He even has an elevator in his home which helps him think better. However, he vehemently denies that it's an elevator but claims he has invented a "vertical moving room".

Dr. NakaMats has been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Late Night with David Letterman, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern as well as appearing on dozens of shows in Japan and across the globe. He is such a beloved character that Danish visual artist Kaspar Astrup Schroder made a documentary titled: "The Invention of Dr. NakaMats". The film takes a humorous look at the inventor as he lives day to day in all the busyness he creates for himself. The movie shows him in his days leading up to his 81st birthday in which he'll be unveiling his latest invention! The film has some very comical moments. One of my favorite scenes is when Dr. NakaMats goes to the camera shop. One of his many hobbies is collecting cameras and of course being Dr. NakaMats he has a very "special method" to selecting the right camera. While most people will look at the brand, lens or whatever special features the camera may have, Dr. NakaMats says "If good smell then good camera. If bad smell or no smell then bad camera". So he pretty much walks around the shop sniffing every camera. The scene is delightfully weird.

The film is also chalk full of awkward moments with his family members, fans, employees and the people who just have no choice but to deal with him. He frequently meets with an employee who works at the hotel where he is to celebrate his 81st. This poor guy is seen on and off through the film bending over backwards for the infamous inventor who was under the impression that the hotel would rename the room for the party permanently to "NakaMats Room". The unfortunate employee meets with him at his lab and ends up begging him for his forgiveness that this is not possible. The Dr., who has been telling everyone he comes across that the room has been named after him, becomes severely disappointed and even calls the hotel manager an asshole for not complying with his request. He is under the impression that this could ruin his image.
I highly recommend the film. It is very funny and visually beautiful. It's only about an hour long, here's the official preview:
By now you must realize that most of his claims, if not all, are completely false. Although throughout the film Dr. NakaMats comes off as a demanding, delusional, narcissistic nut job there seem to be these quite moments within him where he seems ultimately lonely while being surrounded by admiring fans. There is something still so endearing about this eccentric man that just makes you fall in love with him! 

Dr. NakaMats: One of the millions of reasons I love Japan!