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Mr Puzzle - We've got puzzles!

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Puzzles by Maker > Japanese Puzzle Boxes from Hakone


4sun21boxopen.jpgTraditional Japanese Trick opening puzzle boxes as we know them were first made in the Hakone region from about 1870's by master woodworker Ryugoro Okawa.  They were known as Himitsu-Bako (Personal Secret Box) and were originally used to store tools, documents or other secrets inside but soon became common as souveniers for people visiting the hot springs in the area.

Although first made more than 100 years ago they remain highly sought after, with puzzlers from around the world collecting puzzle boxes that may take as many as 122 moves or more to open.   These puzzle boxes are still made in the region by craftsman like Akio Kamei who was trained as an apprentice before becoming a Master craftsman himself, now with his own apprentices.

brianplane.jpgIn this photo Brian is seen trying his hand using a traditional Japanese plane under the watchful eye of Hiroshi Iwahara, himself trained by Akio Kamei.

In May of 1984 these puzzle boxes were designated a National Traditional Handicraft by the International Trade & Industry Minister.

To open a Japanese puzzle box one or more sliding pieces hidden within the patterns on the box must be moved. 

Yosegi is a traditional Japanese art of mosaic woodwork applied to many items including puzzle boxes. The Hakone Mountains are noted for their great variety of trees with different natural colours and textures which craftman in the area use to make their elaborate geometric patterns.

Even though some people refer to them as Chinese boxes these are traditional Japanese trick opening boxes.  We have travelled to Hakone in Japan every few years for the past 20 years of being in the puzzle business.  We have met many craftsmen there and this has enabled us to import directly from Japan good quality puzzle boxes at a reasonable price.




Japanese secret Koyosegi box 2 sun 7 step Japanese secret Koyosegi box 2 sun 7 step


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Not very big but a challenging 7 moves to open. To open a Japanese puzzle box one or more sliding pieces hidden within the patterns on the box must be moved.
Perfect gift box for that very special small gift.
Imagine if someone has to find these moves before they can receive their gift? Perhaps you're giving a very special piece of jewellery, perhaps a ring, maybe even a diamond? This will certainly prolong the suspense.

Size: 2 Sun (a traditional unit of measure to denote length)
Actual size outside: 60mm x 46mm x 37mm
Space inside: 35mm x 32mm x 25mm
Gift boxed as shown in this photo with a solution inside.
Because each puzzle box is handmade in Japan the pattern on each one will be very similar but may vary slightly from the photo shown here.

 
4 sun 9 Step Koyosegi money box 4 sun 9 Step Koyosegi money box


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To open a Japanese puzzle box one or more sliding pieces hidden within the patterns on the box must be moved.   There are nine moves to open this box and discover the coin slot opening to insert your money.  Master the sliding moves and then keep you money in this money box;  it'll be safe for sure!

Size:  4 Sun (a traditional unit of measure to denote length)   Size outside: 112mm x 80mm x 52mm  Size inside: 82mm x 60mm x 36mm
Because each puzzle box is handmade in Japan the pattern on each one will be very similar but may vary slightly from the photo shown here.

 
Japanese trick opening puzzle box 4 Sun 10 Step Japanese trick opening puzzle box 4 Sun 10 Step


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To open a Japanese puzzle box one or more sliding panels hidden within the patterns on the box must be moved.   There are 10 separate moves or 10 steps to open this box.
A fantastic way to prolong the excitement of giving a gift.  Imagine Dad on Father's Day or you brother at Christmas trying to open this trick opening puzzle box.

Size: 4 Sun (a traditional unit of measure to denote length)
Actual size outside: 120mm x 83mm x 52mm
Space inside: 80mm x 63mm x 38mm

Because each puzzle box is handmade in Japan the pattern on each one will be very similar but may vary slightly from the photo shown here. 

 
Japanese trick box 4 Sun 21 Step Japanese trick box 4 Sun 21 Step


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To open a Japanese puzzle box one or more sliding pieces hidden within the patterns on the box must be moved.   Even the bottom and top panels move with this one.  There are 21 separate moves or 21 steps to open this trick opening puzzle box. Just the thing if you really want a challenge.  Or what a way to prolong the gift giving if the person has to find all these moves to get their present. 

Size: 4 Sun (a traditional unit of measure to denote length)
Actual size outside: 119mm x 83mm x 52mm
Space inside: 73mm x 60mm x 32mm

Because each puzzle box is handmade in Japan the pattern on each one will be very similar but may vary slightly from the photo shown here. 

 
5 Sun 21 +1 Step Japanese puzzle box 5 Sun 21 +1 Step Japanese puzzle box Out of Stock





To open this Japanese puzzle box you must slide hidden panels in order.  There are 21 moves to make in the correct order and still this box holds one more secret.  One more move is required to find the second secret compartment.  A great way to prolong the anticipation of gift giving!

This box is available in two different patterns.  Kirichigae & Akaasa

This is a 5 Sun box.   Sun is the traditional unit of measure to denote length - 3.03cm to be exact - of these secret opening puzzle boxes.
Size outside: 150mm X 107mm X 68mm 
Size inside: 100mm x 75mm x 42mm
Space inside extra compartment is really only for paper or coins or something like that. Size: 85mm x 30mm x 3mm
The puzzle box comes gift boxes in a pressboard box with lid and a solution is provided.

785designs.jpg

 
5 Sun 35 +1 step Kirichigae puzzle box 5 Sun 35 +1 step Kirichigae puzzle box


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To open this Japanese puzzle box you must slide hidden panels in order.  There are 35 moves to make in the correct order and still this box holds one more secret.  One more move is required to find the second secret compartment.  A great way to prolong the anticipation of gift giving!

The wood pattern of this box is called Kirichigae.

The is a 5 Sun box.   Sun is the traditional unit of measure to denote length - 3.03cm to be exact - of these secret opening puzzle boxes.
Size outside: 150mm x 95mm x 68mm
Size inside: 100mm x 75mm x 42mm
Space inside extra compartment is really only for paper or coins or something like that. Size: 85mm x 30mm x 3mm

 

 
Karakuri checkered cube box #1 Karakuri checkered cube box #1


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The four boxes in this set of Karakuri Cube Boxes are designed in the checkered pattern which very effectively disguises the opening movements and mechanisms.  The boxes are exact cubes with no distinguishing marks on any side and this makes it difficult to even know if you have the puzzle the right way up to open.

The is puzzle number 1 in the series and it is made from the wood of the Zelkova serrata tree (a type of Elm) called Keyaki and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple.

Size outside: 60mm x 60mm x 60mm
Space inside: 30mm x 30mm x 35mm

The puzzle is packaged with an illustrated solution sheet.

 
Karakuri checkered cube box #2 Karakuri checkered cube box #2


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The four boxes in this set of Karakuri Cube Boxes are designed in the checkered pattern which very effectively disguises the opening movements and mechanisms.  The boxes are exact cubes with no distinguishing marks on any side and this makes it difficult to even know if you have the puzzle the right way up to open.

The is puzzle number 2 in the series and it is made from Karin and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple.

Size outside: 60mm x 60mm x 60mm
Space inside: 30mm x 30mm x 30mm

The puzzle is packaged with an illustrated solution sheet.

 
Karakuri checkered cube box #3 Karakuri checkered cube box #3


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The four boxes in this set of Karakuri Cube Boxes are designed in the checkered pattern which very effectively disguises the opening movements and mechanisms.  The boxes are exact cubes with no distinguishing marks on any side and this makes it difficult to even know if you have the puzzle the right way up to open.

The Karakuri Creation Group's woodworking skills are very well known and the finish on these boxes is extremely high.  The action to open each box is very smooth.  They have used a different contrasting colour with the light Maple wood for each of the four designs so you can tell them apart.

Each of the four have different opening mechanisms to give you a range of challenges.  They are not designed for you to progress from one to the other.  They are quite separate challenges.

The is puzzle number 3 in the series and it is made from Walnut and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple.

Size outside: 60mm x 60mm x 60mm  Space inside: 25mm x 30mm x 40mm
The puzzle is packaged with an illustrated solution sheet.

 
Karakuri checkered cube box #4 Karakuri checkered cube box #4


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The four boxes in this set of Karakuri Cube Boxes are designed in the checkered pattern which very effectively disguises the opening movements and mechanisms.  The boxes are exact cubes with no distinguishing marks on any side and this makes it difficult to even know if you have the puzzle the right way up to open.

The Karakuri Creation Group's woodworking skills are very well known and the finish on these boxes is extremely high.  The action to open each box is very smooth.  They have used a different contrasting colour with the light Maple wood for each of the four designs so you can tell them apart.

Each of the four have different opening mechanisms to give you a range of challenges.  They are not designed for you to progress from one to the other.  They are quite separate challenges.

The is puzzle number 4 in the series and it is made from Tagayasan and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple.

Size outside: 60mm x 60mm x 60mm  Space inside: 35mm x 35mm x 35mm with a much smaller restricted opening.
The puzzle is packaged with an illustrated solution sheet.

 
Set of 4 Karakuri checkered cube boxes Set of 4 Karakuri checkered cube boxes


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Buy all four different puzzle boxes for less.  Each of the four have different opening mechanisms to give you a range of challenges.  They are not designed for you to progress from one to the other.  They are quite separate challenges.

The puzzles are made from:

1. The wood of the Zelkova serrata tree (a type of Elm) called Keyaki and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple. Space inside: 30mm x 30mm x 35mm
2.  Karin and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple.  Space inside: 30mm x 30mm x 30mm
3.  Walnut and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple. Space inside: 25mm x 30mm x 40mm
4.  Tagayasan and the contrasting lighter cubes are from Maple.   Space inside: 35mm x 35mm x 35mm with a much smaller restricted opening.

Size outside: 60mm x 60mm x 60mm
Each puzzle is packaged with an illustrated solution sheet.

 
Karakuri small puzzle box #2 Karakuri small puzzle box #2


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group this puzzle is unlike other more traditional Japanese puzzle boxes. Once you know the solution you can open it in just two moves. But one of them is quite a unique movement so don't be fooled that that makes it easy to open!

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Katura wood (a type of Cherry tree).

Size outside: 42mm x 42mm x 60mm
Space inside: 31mm x 17mm x 24mm

 
Karakuri small puzzle box #3 Karakuri small puzzle box #3


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group this puzzle group is unlike other more traditional Japanese puzzle boxes. Once you know the solution you can open it in four moves. One of them is quite unconventional which makes the overall solution very interesting.

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Oak.

Size outside: 42mm x 47mm x 60mm
Space inside: 30mm x 26mm x 25mm

 
Karakuri small cube puzzle box #4 Karakuri small cube puzzle box #4


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group this puzzle series is unlike other more traditional Japanese puzzle boxes. The box has an obviously separate bottom so you seem to have a clue about where to start but that just makes it more intriguing.

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Rengas wood.

Size outside: 47mm x 47mm x 47mm
Space inside: 25mm x 25mm x 20mm

 
Karakuri small puzzle box #5 Karakuri small puzzle box #5


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group this group of puzzles is unlike other more traditional Japanese puzzle boxes.  First, it has a very obvious separate base.  Second, when you rattle it you can hear an object rolling around inside. No force is required, no tapping, or hitting the puzzle, none what so ever.

Maybe you can take some clue from the words of the Japanese designers "Even though you try to open it 'in your hands', it isnít easy to open. You may not think you need a desk, but it sincerely is helpful to solve the puzzle."  Or maybe that will only confuse you more.

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Maple wood.

Size outside: 48mm x 34mm x 42mm
Space inside: 25mm x 25mm x 25mm

 
Karakuri small cube puzzle box #6 Karakuri small cube puzzle box #6


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group. The top of the box is obviously separate from the bottom and the bottom, it can move in and out slightly, and when you shake the puzzle it rattles. Not like other Japanese puzzle box designs that's for sure.

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Walnut wood.

Size outside: 47mm x 47mm x 47mm
Space inside: 27mm x 27mm x 15mm  A great space for a ring!

 
Karakuri small puzzle box #7 Karakuri small puzzle box #7


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group this puzzle is unlike other more traditional Japanese puzzle boxes. It is not the hardest puzzle box in this series but its a very interesting play on the idea of a traditional Japanese puzzle box with a very elegant solution.

The designers words about this puzzle are: "I believe you can find the first step easily. The second moves in unexpected way that is different from standard Secret Boxes. And the third step is the solution. The first and second steps are the keys of the third step. But, add to this, the first and second steps are useful for how to move the third step."

This very special puzzle box is crafted in teak wood.

Size outside: 50mm x 50mm x 40mm
Space inside: 18mm x 20mm x 25mm

 
Karakuri small puzzle box #8 Karakuri small puzzle box #8


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IPP Puzzle Exchange  - Luxembourg, August 1996
Presented by Akio Kamei.  Made by Karakuri Creation Group.  Designed by Akio Kamei.

This puzzle was originally designed by Akio Kamei for the IPP16 Puzzle Exchange event held in Luxembourg in 1996.  Back then he called it 3D Box.   The puzzle continues to be made at the Karakuri Creation Group and is as tricky as ever even now!

This puzzle box is quite different looking to others in the set;  and although its not the most difficult its mechanism is quite different too and so a must for any collector of Kamei designs.

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Keyaki (the Japanese word for the wood from the Zelkova tree; part of the Elm family) and Walnut woods.

Size outside: 58mm x 58mm x 58mm    A solution is provided.

 
New Secret Opening Box III 18 step New Secret Opening Box III 18 step


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This is a new type Secret Opening Japanese Puzzle Box. To open this Japanese puzzle box and reveal the secret compartment you must make 18 moves in the correct order. Unlike the traditional secret box, like the Koyosegi 2 and 4 sun boxes we also sell, where only 4 faces of the box move, all 6 surfaces of this box must slide in a set combination to allow this box to be opened. Even if you've solved Japanese puzzle boxes before this one can be a little tricky!

This very special puzzle box is made of walnut with decorative strips of contrasting coloured woods on all six sides beautifully inlaid. The box is made from Walnut and the inlaid woods are: White - Maple Red/Purple - Purple Heart Black - Wenge
Size
outside: 80mm x 80mm x 80mm
Space inside: 35mm x 30mm x 30mm

 
6 Sun Japanese puzzle box 36 step + 1 6 Sun Japanese puzzle box 36 step + 1 N/A





To open this Japanese puzzle box you must slide hidden panels in order.  There are 36 moves to make in the correct order and still this box holds one more secret.   One more move is required to find the second secret compartment. 

We currently have 2 different colours and designs to choose from however in some cases we have just one of a particular colour and stock levels are constantly changing. (Click Detail page or photo for larger photos) Choose your preference from the list "6 Sun 36 Step Designs".  We strive to keep that list updated as stocks change.  Designs are allocated on a first ordered basis.  The number of skilled artisans trained in this traditional technique is very limited and we could not guarantee that a particular sold out design will be restocked in future.

Size:  6 Sun
Actual size outside: 185mm x 125mm x 95mm
Space inside:  132mm X 105mm X 65mm
Space inside extra compartment is really only for paper or coins or something like that. Size: 140mm x 80mm x 3mm
Packaged in a pressboard gift box with a solution inside.

6sun36smallAll.jpg

 
54 step + 1 Japanese puzzle box 6 Sun 54 step + 1 Japanese puzzle box 6 Sun


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6 Sun 54 Step Designs



To open this Japanese puzzle box you must slide hidden panels in order.  There are 36 moves to make in the correct order and still this box holds one more secret.   One more move is required to find the second secret compartment. 

We currently have 6 different colours and designs to choose from however in some cases we have just one of a particular colour and stock levels are constantly changing.  Choose your preference from the list "6 Sun 54 Step Designs".  We strive to keep that list updated as stocks change.  (Click Detail page for larger photos.) Designs are allocated on a first ordered basis.  The number of skilled artisans trained in this traditional technique is very limited and we could not guarantee that a particular sold out design will be restocked in future.

Size:  6 Sun
Actual size outside: 185mm x 125mm x 95mm
Space inside:  132mm X 105mm X 65mm
Space inside extra compartment is really only for paper or coins or something like that. Size: 140mm x 80mm x 3mm
Packaged in a pressboard gift box with a solution inside.

 
Karakuri small cube puzzle box #1 Karakuri small cube puzzle box #1


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Designed & made by the Karakuri Creation Group this puzzle is unlike other more traditional Japanese puzzle boxes. Once you know the solution you can open it in just three moves. But one of them is quite a unique movement compared to other Japanese puzzles boxes and so it's hard to open it without being shown. A very tricky little puzzle box!

This very special puzzle box is crafted in Walnut wood.

Size outside: 47mm x 47mm x 47mm
Space inside: 22mm x 19mm x 33mm

 

 


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