Friday 2 December 2016

Dream of Zebra

As with quite a few lust-worthy puzzles, the first time I got to see and play with a copy of Iwahara’s Dream of Zebra was on a visit to James’ Puzzle Museum. It’s a gorgeous big ball of a puzzle and several of us had a great time playing with it that day…

The next time I ran into one was at my favourite puzzle shop in Hakone, after the crowds had left, when the proprietor emerged form the back room fiddling with a copy… and in answer to my pleading looks,  “Sorry, not for sale!” unfortunately.

Dream of Zebra won an Honourable Mention for Iwahara in the 2001 IPP21 Puzzle Design Competition… it’s been around for a while. Yet, if you look back through the historic records of the puzzles auction sites you’ll only see a few of them changing hands, most seem to have remained in the grateful hands of their current owners… and there’s a good reason for that… so when I was offered one recently, I handed over a small pile of cash, swiftly.

Back at home a couple of days later I finally got to enjoy it properly… it’s not that challenging as a puzzle – there is a fixed set of moves to be made, with no blind alleys or detours along the way… follow the path and the final panel can be removed, revealing the maker’s mark inside (the anglicised “Rockfield” in this case).

It’s a lovely item to play with and the fit and finish is stunning…something which must have provided a significant challenge to the craftsman is the fact that the twelve moving panels have been turned into the shape of a ball… and while I’m no expert on lathe-work, one of my (crazy Australian) mates is… and he’s afraid of the sort of wood-turning that would be required here – because there are gaps in the corners between the pieces that would be just begging to grab hold of a tool and throw it across the room rather violently…

Not just a beautiful object, one that required considerably more skill than usual to create in the first place – respect, Hiroshi Iwahara.


  1. does it come completely apart? or just the one plate?

  2. Yep, I'm the crazy Aussie woodturner. An excellently woodturned ball by Mr Tanakasan, perfectly symmetrical spaced gaps all around. Took me 15 years to buy mine,,,,,, you suck Mr Walker, O ghost who owns birds!