Looking for the perfect gift? We got amazing Japanese Puzzle Boxes and Secret Puzzle Boxes which is an amusing way to surprise a friend or colleague with a gift, just hand it over and watch as the recipient struggles to get to their gift!
Japanese Puzzle Boxes
Japanese Puzzle Box exteriors are made of different shades of wood to create astonishingly intricate and beautiful geometric designs, but what really makes them special is the secret puzzle mechanism that they hold inside. To open a Japanese Puzzle Box, first, you will have to identify the moving parts, and then discover the correct order of moves for each part. Some boxes are relatively easy and require only a few moves when others can be more advanced and require hundreds of moves. Grab one of these amazing works of art for your own and start a collection!
Mini Japanese Puzzle Box 7 steps Koyosegi - Secret Trick Puzzle Box For Adults - This High-quality handicraft puzzle box has a secret opening mechanism. The parts will move easily and smoothly if you do it the right way. When the mechanism moves in order, the lid will open to the 7th step.
Japanese Puzzle Box - 4 Sun 14 steps - This High-quality handicraft puzzle box has a unique sliding mechanism, that requires 14th steps to open. The parts will move easily and smoothly if you do it the right way.
Panda Japanese Puzzle Box 12+1 steps - Secret Puzzle Box - 12 + 1 moves high-quality beautiful Japanese Puzzle Box with a Panda pattern on the lid and a bird pattern on the back. You need to unlock several sliding panels in a specific order before you can open the box. The parts will move easily and smoothly if you do it the right way. When the mechanism moves in order, the lid will open to the 12th step. After you successfully open the box you will find a small secret space inside the lid!
Secret Base Puzzle Box - Karakuri Special Edition Japanese Puzzle Box - This Karakuri Secret Base Puzzle has two secret compartments with a unique opening mechanism. Can you discover the two hidden secret spaces? When the mechanism moves in the right order, the first secret compartments will open but then you still need to work your way to open the second secret compartments.
Super CUBI 324 Step YOSEGI MUKU SB - Limited Edition Japanese Puzzle Box - This High-quality handicraft puzzle box has a unique mechanism that is quite different from all other puzzle cube boxes in the Karakuri set. Unique 324 moves! How difficult can it be? Well, it's very tricky. The parts will move easily and smoothly if you do it the right way. When the mechanism moves in order, the lid will open to the 324th step.
Puzzle boxes are cleverly constructed hollow boxes in a variety of different shapes, which had a “prize” inside. Some other types of secret opening puzzles might have the goal of removing a steel ball or solving a maze in order to open the box. Some puzzle boxes are extremely hard and very tricky to solve, these are sure to stimulate your mind and inspire your creativity.
Secret Puzzle Box - One Step Clever Puzzle Box - This clever Secret Puzzle Box is an amusing way to surprise a friend or colleague with a gift, just hand it over and watch as the recipient struggles to get to their gift!
Secret Opening Puzzle Box - Wood Puzzle Box - This clever Secret Opening Puzzle Box is an amusing way to surprise a friend or colleague with a gift, just hand it over and watch as the recipient struggles to get to their gift!
Open Frame Impossible Puzzle - Clever Secret Opening Puzzle - The lock mechanism used in this puzzle is used in many escape room. The Open Frame mechanical brain teaser requires a little cunning and dexterity to reveal the treasure inside. This ingenious trick Open Frame is the perfect gift- or the perfect way to give someone a gift!
Einstein's Spider Box Puzzle - Secret Puzzle box - The Einstein Puzzle Box is a very fun one step trick box with a secret unique hidden mechanism. Do you think you can open the Einstein Box lid? It's only one step.
Viking Puzzle Box - Viking puzzle box with a unique maze mechanism that is quite different from all other puzzle boxes in our sequential puzzle boxes collection. To open the box you will need to find the perfect set up combination of the four wheels, metal balls, and sliding panels.
Secret Rad Puzzle Box - Clever Trick Opening RadBox Puzzle - Puzzle Box For Adults - The Secret Rad Puzzle Box drawer is locked! Can you open it? The Secret Rad Puzzle Box hid a very clever and unique mechanism that keep the box locked. Try to open the drawer by solving the hidden secret of the Rad Box.
PLD Puzzle Box - A tricky maze puzzle box that will make you think outside the box the puzzle designed by Jean Claude Constantin.
Centrale Box - Puzzle Box - A very clever trick box with a secret drawer and a unique hidden maze mechanism. Try to open the drawer by solving the hidden maze.
The Beginnings of the Puzzle Box
The first himitsu-bako were designed for personal use and were small and relatively simple. But as their popularity grew, they became much more elaborate and larger in size. Soon, they were being called “sikake-bako” and “tei-bako,” which mean trick box and clever box, respectively. Their popularity also spread beyond the town of Hakone, where they were invented. Tourists to the area were soon buying their own himitsu-bako as souvenirs, expanding their popularity even more. Soon, himitsu-bako would make their ways to all of the corners of the globe.
These increasingly elaborate boxes were also being put to new uses. Instead of being used simply to keep sewing materials out of the hands of children, or to store a piece of jewelry in the home, they were being used by samurai and warlords to pass messages securely. Travelers also used them, to keep their valuables safe while on the road.
Demand for the himitsu-bako continued to grow, and three notable artisans began to create boxes using a special style of wooden mosaic that the region was known for. The woodworking style is known as yosegi-zaiku. These artisans were Takajiro Ohkawa, Tatsunosuke Okiyama, and Kikukawa. Their efforts led to the creation of the distinctive style that himitsu-bako are still known for today.
Before himitsu-bako were invented, the Hakone-Odawara region was already renowned for its uniquely talented woodworkers. One reason their work was so sought after was the abundance and variety of high-quality wood in the area. With access to wood of such beauty and diversity, many generations of artisans worked to create intricate ways to showcase the many different hues, textures, and grains in creative ways.
One of the most popular forms of woodworking in Hakone, therefore, became yosegi-zaiku. Craftsmen used different shades of wood in careful inlays to create astonishingly intricate and beautiful geometric designs. Woodworkers then, and today, are proud of the fact that the wood used in traditional yosegi-zaiku is not painted, stained, or otherwise artificially colored. Each piece of wood must be carefully sought and selected to contribute to the overall effect of the design.
Many of these designs have special names that describe the design or honor the craftsman who invented or perfected it. Ichimatsu, for example, means “checkered” and describes a multicolored pattern of small squares arranged in cascading diagonal stripes. Koyosegi combines many different patterns arranged artistically. Kuroasa means “dark morning,” or “dark sunrise,” and consists of interlocking star shaped patterns made with a dark wood.
These designs actually form only a thin layer on the exterior of the box. The patterns are crafted in very thin sheets, which can then be cut and applied to puzzle boxes (or other items) for decorative purposes.
Another style of wood inlay, zougan, is also used to decorate puzzle boxes. Zougan inlay, instead of focusing on interwoven geometric patterns, creates a representative image. Often this image is inspired by traditional Japanese art.
When these designs were combined with the himitsu-bako, a truly enchanting artform was born. While not all himitsu-bako are adorned with yosegi-zaiku, those that remain cherished for representing this treasured part of Japan’s cultural history.
What Makes puzzle boxes So Special?
Himitsu-bako are beautiful, but it’s their puzzles that have long captivated everyone who has had the opportunity to examine one. Not only must one find identify their moving parts, which can be difficult in itself due to the usual mosaic style, but one must also know the correct order in which to move each part.
This sequence can be relatively easy and require only a few moves, in the simplest of himitsu-bako. However, the more advanced boxes can require dozens of moves. Each tile must be slid in a particular direction, in a particular order, or the contents of the box cannot be retrieved. Some boxes may require fifty moves or even more!
Unopened, a well-crafted himitsu-bako reveals nothing about its opening mechanism or its contents. In most cases, it’s impossible to even identify which panel functions as the lid until every part of the opening sequence has been completed.
This is what made himitsu-bako so valuable as a security measure when they were initially invented. One could be certain that, for example, a message placed inside would be retrieved only by someone who knew the sequence. Think of it as an early method of “encrypting” data.
Today, of course, we have other ways of passing messages securely. But himitsu-bako are still beloved for their beauty and cleverness, and still, provide a safe and secure way to contain valuable trinkets.
Puzzle Boxes (Himitsu-Bako) Today
Today, himitsu-bako are still crafted using the same traditional methods that have been passed down for generations, in Hakone. There’s still a community of about 100 people who are keeping the traditions of yosegi-zaiku, zougan, and himitsu-bako alive in their purest forms. Usually, the craftsmen who produce the boxes themselves do not produce the mosaic designs used to cover them. Instead, each craftsman spends a lifetime perfecting his own particular skills, and perhaps passing them on to an apprentice.
Of course, their popularity over the past two centuries has also inspired other cultures and artisans to create their own puzzle boxes. The legacy of himitsu-bako is one that is going to stretch far into the future.
If you had a secret puzzle box, what would you keep in it?