Sunday 23 July 2017

Secret Box Box

No, that is not a typo… that is its name… and it is well-named. 

A couple of months ago I missed out on getting a copy of the similarly named Secret Book Box Box – a collaboration between Hideaki Kawashima and Ninomiya-san – that one looked for all the world like three intersecting books, with some lovely Ninomiya stiped Yosegi providing the illusion of the pages of the books… it was a beautiful object…

A little while later Kawashima-san offered a simpler version, the Secret Box Box (sans the book-motif) through the usual Karakuri shop pages… and while I was umming and ahhhing, I spotted a post on the interweb with a pic of an amused looking John Rausch playing with one of the originals – followed by several exhortations about just how brilliant this puzzle was – and suggestions that puzzlists will find it awesome – I ordered one immediately… after all if I didn’t like it, I could always give John a hard time if I happened to run into him in the next few weeks…

Short version: it arrived. John was spot on. Hard time not required. 

Slightly longer version: this box truly encapsulates all that is great about the Karakuri puzzles – it’s an interesting puzzle to start with: you can more or less guess what you’re going to do right from the get-go… and once you get started you’re instantly rewarded with a nice bit of progress… there’s a pause in the middle allowing a little bit of thought and then another flurry of activity, resulting in a radically different-looking beast with lots of open cavities… 



You see one thing that you should know about the Karakuri folks is that they sign their work, usually in the form of a stamped signature (or hanko) somewhere inside the box… and at this point you can’t help but notice that you haven’t seen Kawashima-san’s hanko yet… perhaps he just forgot to sign them? 

(Yeah, right! Produce a stunning puzzle with insane tolerances and massive complexity, then don't bother signing your name to it... sure, that could happen... N O T !!)

…that is a whole other puzzle, and what take this from being a fantastic puzzle to being a really brilliant stand-out – it is both clever and fun, and if you blinked you’d easily be tempted into stopping before the end, quite satisfied with what you had already discovered… but there is so much more…

Probably now my favourite Karakuri puzzle of the year… boy was John right! 

[Sorry, can't really show you any more pics without spoiling some elements...] 


  1. Allard I love this box and am glad you got it too. You beat me to the punch, I'll be reviewing it in a few weeks. With so many secret compartments, I suspect it can store one more review anyhow. Cheers!

    1. ...I reckon it deserves as many write-ups as we can muster! Go for it...

  2. sounds an intriguing and fun puzzle.

    Also wanted to say congratulations Allard (and everyone else who was involved) on the IPP London souvenir book. It is a great record of a brilliantly-organised IPP and brought back memories and encouraged me to locate puzzles that I hadn't played with for a while. Well done and thanks to all who were involved in the book.