Thursday 21 May 2020

Asymmetric cube -5-

For me, this was the pick of the bunch from my latest Karakuri club order: it looks gorgeous, it’s a handy size and as a puzzle, it rocks!

Kawashima-san designed and crafted this for an exhibition entitled “GO”. Now, in Japanese, the word “go” can also mean “5” – and if you look at most of the faces of the cube, there’s a coloured five against a white background… and he’s used 5 different woods to make this box – but you’ll only get a glimpse of the fifth one (gorgeous!) when you finally solve the puzzle… and this is his fifth incarnation in his Bars Box series – so go, go, go!

At first blush this looks like a simple puzzle box – you have three panels that will each individually slide in one direction… upon sliding any of those panels, nothing else will move… and the other three panels won’t budge at all… take the trouble to read the craftsman’s notes in the website and he warns you that “there are mechanisms that betray your expectations”. 

And he’s not kidding!

I spent a long time performing exactly the same moves over and over again fully expecting a different outcome. (Yes, I know that quotation…) I tried turning gravity on and off, and moving it around – nothing. I tried to move things in different ways – don’t be stupid – those pieces are blocked and two pieces of matter cannot occupy the same space no matter how much you wish they would. 

There is a wonderful “A-Ha!” moment, but even then, there’s still a bit of puzzling to work through to finally open the lid and peek inside to spy Kawashima-san’s hanko hiding inside. 

I love the details in this box – there are some wonderful little details on the inside – just there to make it look drop-dead gorgeous and totally invisible until you’ve solved the puzzle – a stunning reward for solving this little beauty.


  1. Michael Quigley21 May 2020 at 10:35

    You will have to explain how you turned gravity off.

    Mr Rainer's T12 explicitly states that gravity is not needed in the solve and I fear this is hold a few people back!

    1. ...that would be one spoiler too far... ;-)