Akio Kamei is a name synonymous with puzzle in Japan. A master woodworker, Kamei has been designing and making puzzles since 1975. First at Yamanaka Kumiki wooden souvenir factory in Odawara, moving to work with other puzzle makers in Japan during the 1980s until branching out in 1999 to set up the Karakuri Creation Group where he continues to train and inspire a new generation of Japanese puzzle makers.
With the Coffee Cup puzzle box Akio Kamei has taken an everyday object and not only produced a beautiful artistic piece of woodworking but has developed a solution that refers to the box’s appearance.
In Mr Kamei’s words, the challenge is: When you take a break, do you have coffee? How many lumps of sugar would you like?
First designed and produced in November 1985 the Coffee Cup set the standard for themed puzzle boxes and is still considered to be one of the iconic puzzle boxes of the past 40 years. The Coffee Cup would probably have originally been termed a story or a narrative puzzle where the elements of solving the puzzle relate to the object itself. These days it’s likely to come under the banner of Sequential Discovery. That term does have connotations of being very difficult but that’s not necessarily the case. An elegant and on-theme solution can be equally as satisfying to solve.
The leap from a standard Japanese Puzzle Box to this puzzle box is enormous and a testament to Akio Kamei’s enormous talent and contribution to puzzles in general. He was awarded the Nob Yoshigahara Award in 2007 as recognition of that contribution.
Woods used: Teak, Rosewood and Maple.
Size: The cup has a diameter of 160 mm and is 90 high. Inside compartment: Octagonal shape – each side measures 15 mm × 56.5mm high.
The puzzle is packaged in the signature Kamei Blue gift box with a sealed solution sheet inside.