The Invention of Dr NakaMats


Written by Gedvile Bunikyte
17 Monday 17th May 2010


The 82 year-old Dr. NakaMats is the world’s most prolific inventor. Holding over 3,300 patents, the Japanese innovator dwarfs Edison who had only 1,093 by comparison. The floppy disk, the CD, the DVD, the taxi-cab meter, Cinemascope and even Karaoke are all the product’s of Nakamats’ extraordinary mind. It’s no wonder he’s treated almost like royalty in his native Japan, with streets, squares and parks being named after him.
Dr. NakaMats’ lifestyle is unorthodox. He believes that oxygen is bad for creativity so daily he holds himself underwater until half a second before death, this being the time when apparently his best ideas emerge. Although he is 82, he refers to himself as ‘middle-aged’ and swears he can make it to 144. In pursuit of this, he has photographed and tested the effects of every single meal he’s eaten over the last 34 years, a feat for which in 2005 he won the Ig Noble Prize for scientific achievements.
Danish filmmaker Kaspar Asrtrup Schröeder’s vivid and brilliantly comic film The Invention of Dr. NakaMats takes us through the eccentric world of the great man. Dont' Panic caught up with the filmmaker to find out more about Dr. NakaMats and his own life.
How did you come to make The Invention of Dr NakaMats? 
I’ve been travelling and working in Japan and came across a blog with a headlined something like, “The worlds record holder of patents get’s his ideas underwater”. That really intrigued me. I did some research, found some articles and interviews with Dr. NakaMats before contacting him. Then we met in Paris and we had a great connection. Before shooting my subjects, I need to see how our energies interact. And it was good, so I went forth with applying for funding.
Tell us a bit more about your encounter with Dr. NakaMats. 
First we met in Paris. He stayed at the Ritz and had a private driver there. That was a bit intimidating. But besides having the biggest ego I’ve ever met, he was also very kind and we hit it off. That ego of his was interested in having as much exposure as possible, so getting access to him was very easy. After getting funding, I went to stay in a flat near his house in the western part of Tokyo and followed him very intensely for 30 days leading up to his 80-year birthday.
Do you know more eccentric people?
I wish I knew more people like Dr. NakaMats, because they are very inspiring to be around. Even though Dr. NakaMats is very egocentric, he is still very giving and positive. The Japanese culture and mentality is really something that appeals me.
What inspires you?
People that think ‘outside of the box’, don’t follow trends or ‘the rules of society’. But then I’m also very inspired by solitude and loneliness.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a few documentary features. I just finished a new film about Parkour and Architecture, called MY PLAYGROUND that is starting a distribution and festival-life. Check more on my website. Other than that I’m shooting a new documentary feature in Japan soon. It’s already got a title, which is also the name of the main company that will be featured in the film. It’s called “I WANT TO CHEER UP LTD.”, which is a company that rents out “fake” family members. That’s all I can tell you about it at this point.
Kaspar Asrtrup Schröeder lives and works in Copenhagen.


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