Thursday 2 August 2012

A bit of Karakuri fun

I recently managed to come across a couple of rather fun Karakuri puzzles that I hadn’t been able to get my paws on yet. 

Bento Box is probably the simplest of the three Karakuri boxes in this post. Crafted by Hiroyuki Oka since 2007 and made to look exactly like a Japanese packed lunch, this box comes with a napkin and a set of chopsticks – see, I told you it looked just like a Japanese packed lunch! 

The lid lifts off the box to reveal the wooden meal inside – and it’s a rather neatly laid out traditional meal. A couple of little delicacies and a decent sized, if slightly hollow, portion of rice. 

Experimenting a little will lead you to notice that the most likely secret-compartment-hiding-place is in the boiled rice space, and a little bit more fiddling around will identify the one or two moves needed to access it ... not especially challenging, but a very unusual-looking puzzle box – and I like the way that the various elements of the meal need to be used in order to open the box. 

The next two little boxes are both products of the incredibly creative Shiro Tajima. Tiger of Carboholic was his 2009 Karakuri Christmas present and I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for it for quite a while. The toothy grin on the tiger, coupled with the slightly incongruous accompanying lollipop made it look rather intriguing. 

The tiger will open his mouth and yawn, and merrily chomp on the lollipop – and you can probably work out where the secret compartment needs to be, but there are a good few little red herrings to take you off track and keep you playing with this cute little puzzle. 

The solution yields to a bit of Think(c)-ing and considering what you can and can’t do – although it sometimes needs a little bit of “encouragement”. Definitely one of the cutest little Karakuri boxes out there. 

The last puzzle in this post is Dragon Wing. I remember there being quite a bit of speculation on one of the puzzle forums when folks realised that Shiro Tajima was producing puzzle boxes based on the Chinese Horoscope, and that 2011 was the year of the dragon ... the year before he’d produced a rabbit popping out of a top hat for the year of the rabbit – so what would he come up with for the year of the dragon?

I’d been hoping to get a copy of that as a Christmas present but lost out on the ballot as it was oversubscribed, so I was delighted when I managed to snag a copy recently. 

At the start of the puzzle, the dragon’s wings are securely locked down, so the first order of business is to release the poor beast’s wings so that he can fly ... and having done that, it’s pretty clear that there’s a compartment to be opened in his tummy – I say pretty obvious because it sort-of wiggles around quite a bit while you’re experimenting, but in spite of its wiggly-ness, it remains firmly attached.
You’ll need to spot a couple of other little things that might be useful, and then work out how to string them together before you will manage to release the cute little beastie’s tummy. 

Cute little beggar ... anyone for a snake next year?


  1. Very nice puzzles Allard, I particulary like the tiger and dragon!

  2. No! I will resist! I will not get into puzzle boxes! I will NOT get into puzzle boxes!


    1. (Speaking slowly) Kevin you will get into puzzle boxes. You love puzzle boxes. You need puzzle boxes. The tiger box must be yours. Wait am I talking to him or myself????? Oh no.

  3. Where can I get the first one ???

    1. ...these days your best bet is probably a puzzle auction somewhere...