The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) has been running a show called “Pitagora Suicchi” ピタゴラスイッチ, (direct translation: “Pythagorean Switch”) for about 4 years now. It is an educational show overseen by Masahiko Satou (佐藤雅彦), aimed at assisting the development of kids minds, allowing them to think differently.
The program is mainly puppet based and really is only directed at young kids. However, of more interest for us kids at heart, the show is augmented with short sequences of contraptions called “Pitagora Souchi” (ピタゴラ装置). In English these are called “Rube Goldberg machines” (exceedingly complex devices that perform simple tasks in very indirect and convoluted ways). These creations, as with most other cool gadgets and technology in the last century, have been perfected by the Japanese. Despite only using simple household items, they are mesmerising to watch, and must take days, or even weeks to perfect. I used to get frustrated with Dominos when I was a kid, but imagine trying to get something like these working!
There is a whole episode of the show avaiable here too.