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Saturday, 22 January 2011

Japanese Puzzle Box

This was actually the first puzzle box that I ever bought, and as you can see it is of the traditional Japanese design:

I was really surprised when this little box arrived, mostly by just how small it actually is! It is described as 'mame' in size, which equates to a length of between 1 and 2 inches (ish).
Most Japanese puzzle boxes that you will see on sale will have their measurements shown in 'sun', which is the traditional Japanese unit of measure. Here is what each of those measurements equates to in sizes that most of us can understand:

   1 Sun = 1.22 inches (Mame)
1.5 Sun = 1.83 inches (Mame)
   2 Sun = 2.44 inches
2.5 Sun = 3.05 inches
   3 Sun = 3.66 inches
   4 Sun = 4.88 inches
   5 Sun = 6.10 inches
   6 Sun = 7.32 inches
   7 Sun = 8.54 inches
It's a bit hard to get the hang of, but in general Japanese puzzle boxes will look a whole lot bigger in pictures than they are once you have them in your hand. Now considering that my box shown above is only 1 and a half inches long (ish) there is just so much detail put into it. The pattern is shown on all sides of the box, and you cannot physically see the joins between the panels, it really is beautifully made. Also you can get Japanese puzzle boxes in quite a few different designs if you don't like the pattern on this one.

It requires 10 moves to open, and this is done by sliding the outer panels in the correct direction and in the correct sequence. It is pretty easy to work out, but it is also great fun to repeat.

I bought this puzzle box from eBay, but you can buy them from a whole load of other places. Puzzle Master tend to sell quite a few Japanese Puzzle Boxes, so it's worth checking them out.

Prices tend to vary quite a bit depending on the size, number of moving panels/keys and who made them (of course) , but they can go from around £20 all the way up to being well over £600/£700!

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