Most knife sharpeners are, in contrast to their function, rather dull. Plain rectangular blocks that hold sharpening stones in position, nothing more.
Japanese design typically rejects that design aesthetic, preferring to tweak a utilitarian objects appearance in such a way that it plays on the user's emotions while not sacrificing any aspect of its prime function.
Take the "Shark Grinder", for instance. Its sculpted body lies flat against any surface, providing a stable platform for the grinding stones. A vertical fin on the back offers a handy gripping point to ensure the sharpener stays steady.
Last but not least, the sharpener's playful yet slightly menacing shape manages to evoke a hint of the thrills and chills engendered by these fearsome marine predators - yet still stays true to the concept of cuteness so beloved by Japanese society.
As for functionality, the designers of the Shark Grinder have not only maintained the primary function of knife-sharpening, but have added a magnet to the body allowing the device to be conveniently stuck to a refrigerator door when not in use. Knife sharpener AND magnetic memo holder? That's one tale few real sharks can tell!
Get your Shark Grinder from Rinkya Stores, priced at just 840 yen (about $9) each. (via A Rinkya Blog and ModCloth)