Karakuri, or, Trick, is the word of the day and the name of the collection we chose to highlight for this post. Karakuri Box is a fine company and a renowned maker of secret puzzle boxes and other similar contraptions. Their original and ingenious designs often require the puzzler to use the principles of physics to open them (a cool twist). The exquisite craftsmanship and beautiful woods make each one a work of art as well. Puzzle collectors from all over the world agree: their trick boxes are simply the best. We’d like to showcase some of the lead designers from the company and then take a moment to talk through some of our favorites from the collection: classic favorites, newest releases, and more!
Akio Kamei: The Godfather of Karakuri
Mr. Akio Kamei has an impressive history in the realm of puzzles, and is now the leader of Karakuri Box. He was born in Osaka, Japan in 1948 and started creating his own original trick boxes in 1981. Kamei had gathered experience from other wooden puzzle companies and then decided to go solo with his own creations. We admire when an artisan breaks free from the pack to make their own vision a reality, and this man is no exception. In his own words, Kamei says “The trick box, which is opened by the effort of one person, can’t be opened if that person doesn’t enjoy humor. Someone who has no experience with puzzles or trick boxes, yet has many life experiences, may have the same trouble. Sometimes the knowledge or the experience disturbs his trial. I like to think of situations where minds are flooded with creative ways to solve the problem.”
Another brilliant designer from Karakuri is Osamu Kasho, who, prior to his current designing gig, was a maker of music boxes and wooden tumble dolls. It seems only natural that he would find his way over to the puzzle box community, and we’re happy to include his work! Kasho joined up with the Karakuri Creation Group in 2012 and has won numerous titles and awards in various woodworking and crafting competitions in Japan. Osamu says that he desires to make “products that have an impact and are something lovely to hold in the hands. Based on the combination of wood and the shape of the structure of the widget, it often happens that motifs, such as animals, will float. I cherish playfulness as I work on my products.”
Finally, another lead craftsman from Karakuri is Mr. Hiroshi Iwohara, who chooses the words “Mechanics, Mathematics, Thoughtful ...” as his biography subheading. He graduated from Saitama University in Japan in 1997 and only two years later in 1999 was already working for the Karakuri Creation Group. He writes of his work, “complex mechanisms and simple expressions produce functional beauty. I’ll create those products.” Iwohara’s words may be translated from a native tongue, but the meaning, the tenacity, and the intelligence is never lost, which speaks volumes to his communication skills.
These designers know who they are, and what they are meant to do. How many of us can say that about ourselves? See if you can notice how their approaches to puzzle making have inspired the pieces of art below.
Here are some of our favorite puzzles from the Karakuri Collection, that we have available on the Kubiya Online Store. Keep reading for a sneak peek at some products that have only just become available.
Mini Secret Puzzle Box #6
This high-quality Mini Secret Puzzle Box #6 has a secret, unique opening mechanism. The parts will move easily and smoothly if you maneuver them the right way. When the mechanism moves in order, the lid will open to the 3rd step. This device is Co-branded with Karakuri Creation Group and Kubiya Japan, and is recommended for all ages 7 and up.
Why we like this puzzle: The simplicity of the design, combined with the miniature scale. What’s not to love about a secret little box? This puzzle is great for its universality and wider appeal due to its slightly lower difficulty level of 2.
Secret Base Japanese Puzzle Box
Kubiya’s Secret Base Puzzle Box from the Karakuri collection has two secret compartments with a unique opening mechanism. Can you discover the two concealed spaces? With a bit of luck and the right type of movements, the first compartment will reveal itself. Then, the next challenge is to open the second one.
Why we like this puzzle: Having a layered puzzle with clear steps and multiple goals along the way is exciting, and often there is only one secret compartment for a puzzle. Two feels like a bonus! Really though, it’s the intricately gorgeous textures and wood grains that make this puzzle stand out and dazzle.
New Secret Puzzle Box
This Secret Puzzle Box #2 is new, and comes straight from the top designer himself, Akio Kamei. There are 6 panels that move in this new, secret Box. It takes 12 moves to open in total, think you can figure it out?
Why we like this puzzle: This puzzle has a difficulty level of 4, meaning it is much trickier to solve while offering the same aesthetic beauty as any box in the collection. We recommend this choice if you love the Karakuri Collection but want to make sure you won’t get the solution right away.
Moon and Bear (recent addition)
“Moon Bears have a mark on their chest shaped like a crescent moon. The drawer will open if his wish comes true” - The concept for this puzzle is mysterious and purposefully vague, it seems, leaving a lot of room for creative interpretation of how to open the drawer! A clever solution, and something beautiful to hold in your hands.
Why we like this puzzle: I mean.....it’s a Moon Bear! Do you need more convincing than that? Think Ursaring from Pokémon, but in puzzle form. A more serious answer is that the puzzle is new, fun, beautiful, and a creative challenge for all. Click the link above if you want to see a cute bear!
These are just a few highlights from their extremely diverse collection, but we’ve discovered several common threads. Playfulness, good humor, and trickery seem to be familiar themes at the heart of the Karakuri Company, and we support it 100%! What turns a good puzzle into a great puzzle is that extra bit of surprise, fun, and charm that we see here in each puzzle. Stay on the lookout for cool, new designs from Karakuri Creations on the Kubiya website, and thanks as always for reading.
Cheers, keep on puzzling, and stay safe!