Dr. NakaMats Brain Drink

by Brett Bull

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In 2005, Dr. Nakamats (he prefers to drop the "u" from his name) won an Ig Nobel Prize, a parody of the Nobel Prize, for his practice of photographing each meal he has eaten since the age of 42, the year he believes is the start of one's downward slide in life.

"To win an Ig Nobel Prize, one must do something that first makes people laugh, then makes them think," said Marc Abrahams, cofounder of the Annals of Improbable Research, the organizing body of the Ig Nobel awards. "Dr. Nakamats' epic meal photography work does both those things — and does them with style."

The reasoning behind the photographs can be found in Rebody, one of the dozens of books authored by Nakamats that details the means for living a healthy life until his projected age of 144.

"I was curious about how I could extend my life span," Nakamats says of his research. "I found that we are eating too much. That is what makes life short."

He concluded that one meal per day is ideal, and that meal itself should be low in oil and around 700 calories. For drinking, coffee should be avoided as it is bad for the brain. The number of sleeping hours should be limited to six, and he encourages a steady intake of Rebody 55, a dietary supplement (10,000 yen for five bottles) of his own invention composed of 55 grains and other elements that is perfect for sprinkling on soup or cereal.

In the Dr. Nakamats Library, whose entry door is written in the typical font found on his products that renders the "N" similar to a lightning bolt, the glory of Nakamats comes to life. Samples of Flying Shoes, strap-on plastic attachments for the feet whose springlike behavior results in minimal strain on the body while running, a pachinko machine that shoots balls automatically and the Dr. Nakamats Cerebrex chair, whose electrical current is said to relieve jet lag and improve eyesight after a 20-minute session, can be found mixed in with letters from dignitaries and accolades from overseas universities. A photo of his first invention, at the age of 5, which included modifications to a model airplane, is posted outside.

Also exhibited is the evolution of his most recognized work, the floppy disk. "I was in my second year at the University of Tokyo Engineering Department," he remembers of the floppy's beginnings. "Back then I really liked to listen to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. But I thought the combination of the relatively fast-spinning 78 rpm record, the grinding of the groove with the needle and scratches on the record produced an unclear sound."

Nakamats subsequently, in 1952, patented a floppy media and data reader that would eventually result in a series of licensing agreements with IBM Corp. in 1979. Though many experts have questioned Nakamats' claim as the inventor, Nakamats and a representative from IBM wished to not comment on the details of their agreement. However, Nakamats, who is reluctant to divulge earnings figures for this or any of his works, adamantly maintains that he is indeed the father of the floppy.

Still, the life of a successful innovator is not always smooth. At a recent news conference, Nakamats presented the Dr. Nakamats Grip (7,800 yen), a bulky rubber golf putting grip that allows the user to align his thumbs in parallel down the shaft and, according to its inventor, achieve better


control of the ball. The grip was already in existence as a part of a complete putter he patented in 1980. But Nakamats has recently found that grip company Golf Pride is now marketing a similar parallel-thumb model, which he claims is infringing on his patent.

Much of what drives Nakamats are the fond memories he has of his mother. At the age of 14, he went to the library and studied Bernoulli's principle, which provides a relationship between the velocity and pressure produced by a moving fluid, to assist his mother in cooking with soy sauce. The result eventually became the home kerosene pump. "It was 1943," he remembers, "there was no fuel during the war. So it was very cold. My mother was working in the kitchen. It was difficult to pour a bottle of soy sauce with her shaking hand. I was looking at her, and I wanted to help."

Though he is said to charge upward of 1 million yen an hour for public speaking, Nakamats maintains that money is in no way his driving force and that he funds all the research for his projects independently. In fact, recent years have seen him focus his attention on less tangible topics that he thinks can have a more positive impact on the world.

Last year, he made his fourth unsuccessful attempt at being elected governor of Tokyo, collecting nearly 86,000 votes — the highest for any independent candidate. He feels that his holistic approach to tackling an invention is perfectly suitable for addressing society's ills as a politician, and make no mistake, he will be running again.

Though his future direction is not certain — toward public office or otherwise — perhaps the guiding philosophy within the world of Nakamats is best conveyed through the lyrics of the "Dr. Nakamats Song," his personal theme tune, which can be summed up as: Make an effort, invent and enjoy; think and create like magic.

Following our interview in his office, I was taken over to the library within Dr. Nakamats House, one of the few areas within the four-story building open to the public. Inside, samples of his work and numerous accolades are scattered through the aisles and along the walls.

After explaining the concept behind the Dr. Nakamats Putter, the inventor led me over to a small display for his Brain Drink, a tea-based beverage that is said to improve one's smarts, and Rebody 55, an additive that is supposed to increase longevity.

"You tried Brain Drink didn't you?" Nakamats said, still holding the putter firmly in both hands.

Remembering back to sitting in his office 15 minutes earlier, I said, "No, you only showed me the can."

"But I thought I saw you drinking from the cup my secretary gave you..."

"You mean the tea?"

"Yes, yes!" he exclaimed. "That was Brain Drink!"

Obviously, its effects hadn't worked on me.

Check out the full article on Brett's Sake-Drenched Postcards site, where he morphs into Captain Japan and takes his readers into the darkest, most bizarre recesses of the country's soul.

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