June 23, 2010

More Small Boxes from Japan

A while ago, I wrote about a few boxes I got from the Karakuri Club's Small Box series. I really enjoyed these puzzles, and they're quite reasonably priced so I decided to order a few more. I tried ordering #4, #5, and #7 (the only ones that were in stock that I didn't have), but they replied that they were also sold out of #4. Oh well! I'll have to grab that the next time they decide to make some.

My order arrived a few days later (I'm always amazed by how fast things arrive), and I eagerly got started working on them. I like doing things in order, so I started out with #5 first. It had the telltale rattle of a hidden mechanism, so I had a feeling that it was going to be pretty tricky. After a few minutes of making no progress, I decided to switch over to working on #7.

The Karakuri Small Box #7 was quite nicely crafted, as are all the boxes from the Karakuri Club. It is made out of Katsura and Teak. One thing to note is that the Karakuri emblem is not inlaid, like it is in the rest of the series. Instead, it looks like it was stamped with a hot implement. Still, it looks nice!

I inspected the box briefly and was able to discover the first move quite quickly. It is a bit unusual, which is required for the way that the mechanism works.

On the website, the description says that the second move is 'unexpected' but I found it to be pretty much what I expected. Perhaps it is slightly different than more standard Japanese puzzle boxes, but I have seen it several times before.

After this, I was unsure how to proceed. Nothing else moved that I could find, so I spent a few minutes wiggling things trying to figure out how to get it apart. All of a sudden, it popped apart in a pretty unusual way, which is always a nice little surprise.

I think it took me about 10 minutes to figure this one out, which is longer than the other boxes took me, if I remember correctly. I think most folks will be able to figure this one out without too much difficulty. Overall, a neat little box!

Now, back to Karakuri Small Box #5! I neglected to mention that this box has a slightly different appearance from the others. This one has a 'base' at the bottom that you can't really see in the picture. This box is crafted out of Maple (KK-5-2).

Here's a snippet from the description on the Karakuri Club website that I found intriguing:
Even though you try to open it in your hands, it isn't easy to open. You may not think you need a desk, but it sincerely is helpful to solve the puzzle.
This definitely piqued my interest, so I was eager to see how it worked. As I mentioned, since the box rattled when I moved it, I was pretty sure that there was some kind of hidden mechanism involved. As such, I tried all the standard things you try with a hidden mechanism puzzle: I tilted it, I whacked it, I shook it and I spun it in various orientations, all to no avail!

I sat and thought about it for a bit, and tried to peer in the slight gap along the bottom to see what the mechanism was, but that didn't help much. I fiddled around with it a bit more, and quite surprisingly it started to open! However, my finger slipped and it shut and locked again. Darn!

I tried to reproduce what I did before, and I was able to get it to open. Unfortunately, the mechanism was not visible, so even opening it doesn't reveal the secret. Eventually, after playing around with it a bit more, I was able to get it to open reliably. The solution is quite clever and it must be an interesting mechanism that enables it. Very cool!

I was quite satisfied with this box as well. I found it to be fairly difficult, I think it took me a good 10-15 minutes to figure out. I'd be curious to see how my non-puzzler friends find it. I'm looking forward to trying out the rest of the series: I still need #4, #6, and #8.

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