Japan has invented some pretty cool things; Mario, the Nissan Skyline, and PlayStation to name a few. Sure, sexy cars and even sexier game systems are great, but what would you choose as the truly exceptional Japanese inventions that influenced the world? Chinese media site, Xinhua Net News, weighed in on this question, giving us their top 10 list of most influential inventions from Japan.
Growing up, my family actually had a laser disc player and a decent collection of nearly 12-inch wide discs. When the whole family gathered to watch a movie, it was a sure thing that it would be interrupted halfway through and my sisters and I would have to fight over who had to flip the disc to continue on with the film. DVDs changed everything, providing enough capacity to fit an entire movie and then some. Blu-Rays have now nudged their way into the market, but it was the invention of the DVD back in 1995 that changed the way we store information and view movies at home.
9) Video Camera
Where would America’s Funniest Home Videos be without the invention of the video camera? Thanks for the hours of entertainment, Japan, and for making some of life’s most embarrassing moments live on forever.
8) Digital Camera
Sony came out with the first digital camera in 1981, and from that moment on, any and all seemingly precious memories were required to be documented for future embarrassment of one’s child.
That’s right, 1979 was the year of the Walkman, Sony’s game changing mobile music listening device. It was the iPod of the 80s and turned music into a private listening experience.
Mixtapes are so 1987, it was all about the mixCD once they became widely available in the 1990s. It was Sony that first invented the CD, forever changing the way we listened to music. And although the use of CDs is on a steady decline in the digital age, that mixCD from 2002 I found in my closet will always have a place in my heart.
You have Japan to thank for obnoxious drunks screaming “Living on a Prayer” at the top of their lungs. Yep, Karaoke is a Japanese invention, incorporating the word kara, or “empty,” and oke, a shortened version of “orchestra.”
4) Video Tape Recorder (VTR)
Ah, the days when you’d record your favorite shows on a VHS tape and store them with sticky white labels declaring the titles of your pirated merch. The introduction of Sony’s Betamax in 1975 made it all possible. Now we’re on to DVDs and even Blu-Rays, but VTRs were all the rage in the 80s and in use up until the early 2000s.
3) Electronic Calculators
Invented by Casio in 1957, the electronic calculator made quick addition possible and made math class infinitely easier (and in some cases less necessary). Once out of school, you never had to do long division on a piece of paper if you didn’t want to and you certainly didn’t have to memorize your times tables (curse you, sevens!).
2) Instant Ramen
Who hasn’t had instant ramen at least once in their life? The college staple is actually a Japanese native, invented in cup form by Nissin Foods in 1971. Instant ramen comes in at number two on the list, second only to…
1) Electric Rice Cooker
What’s easier than cooking rice? In modern times, probably nothing thanks to the invention of the electric rice cooker in 1940 by Mitsubishi Electric. But before this awesome Japanese invention was born, skilled cooks would have to steam the precious staple on a stove (or in many cases a fire), hoping the grains didn’t burn or stick to the pot. So thanks for the perfectly cooked rice, Japan. Our sushi, donburi and curry applaud you.