July 9, 2010

Bus Tour and Founder's Reception

Check out the full set of photos from this day here.

The next day, we were signed up for the bus tour of Kobe Science Museum and Osaka Castle, so we got up bright and early and grabbed some breakfast at the hotel. When we got on the bus, we found out that we were actually also going to the Arima Toys & Automata Museum, which I was pretty psyched about.

On the bus, I sat next to Duncan Ramsey and Kellian sat next to Diniar Namdarian. The drive was over an hour, but the museum was quite cool. There were several floors, the first of which had all sorts of old German toys. The most interesting thing for me was these decorations that had fans on the top that were powered by candles that were lit underneath. They powered small turntables with figures on them.

The next floor had a bunch of more free form puzzles and creativity toys, such as various blocks, ramps for marbles, and such. There were other toys such as shoot-the-moon, and many Naef play objects.

My favorite floor was the next one, which contained tons of automata: contraptions that move when you turn a crack, usually animating a character of some sort. I think the coolest one was a large green dragon which looked quite impressive. Unfortunately, a lot of them were under glass so you couldn't actually see what they looked like moving. There were some, however, that were hooked up to a button so that when you pressed the button the crank would be turned electronically.

The last floor had a model train, which I found to be somewhat less interesting. Time was limited, so I didn't spend much time there. While we were perusing the exhibit, I got a chance to speak to Dick Hess, which was really cool since he is literally wrote the book on wire puzzles. I told him how I spent a year trying to figure out his Yak puzzle and how I enjoyed several of his other designs. He's a really nice fellow and we chatted for quite a bit. He has travelled in China so Kellian enjoyed speaking with him as well.

On the ground floor, there was a gift shop where puzzlers were bustling around purchasing various toys. I bought Karakuri Small Box #4, since they were out of stock on the Karakuri web site and the price was the same. It is a cute little puzzle that is nicely made, as is the rest of the series. It looks similar to Small Box #5, with the raised base. The mechanism is not bad, but I was disappointed to find that it was pretty much the same as the Ribbon Box from Bits & Pieces. Oh well!

I also had a chance to meet Marcel Gillen, who is known for his interesting designs that were machined out of aluminum, such as his series of chess piece puzzles where the object is to open them up. His pieces were produced by Bits and Pieces, though none of them are available anymore. When Marcel learned that Kellian didn't have any plans for during the puzzle exchange, he mentioned that his friend, Rene Dawir, could use and exchange assistant if she'd like to participate. How thoughtful!

After the museum, we got back on the bus and headed to lunch. Lunch was tasty, and Kellian and I sat with Alan Rolfs and his wife. After lunch, we got back on the bus and headed to the Kobe Science Museum.

I like science museums since there is usually plenty of stuff to fiddle with, and this was no exception. There were a bunch of different exhibits, but we spent most of our time in the technology exhibit and the mechanics exhibit. One of our favorite demonstrations was this huge parabola you could whisper into that reflected your voice against a 45 degree wall and towards another parabola, where your friend could hear you perfectly.

After that, we headed over to Osaka Castle. The castle itself was nice, though it was re-constructed fairly recently so the interior is not at all historic. The view from the top of the city was great, Osaka is huge! The main attraction of this site was not the castle, it was the impossible joint that can be found in one of the beams in its construction.

If you look closely, you'll see that it couldn't be slid together like a normal dovetail joint due to the angular bump on the adjacent sides. A small model of this was given to everyone as a gift from the IPP organizing committee.

At this point, we were pretty tired so we were happy to be heading back to the hotel. Due to traffic, we got in a bit later than anticipated so we just had a few minutes to clean up and change before heading to the Founder's Reception.

At the Founder's Reception, Jerry (shown here) welcomed everyone to the 30th International Puzzle Party and spoke for a few minutes. The food was pretty good with lots of sushi to start out with. Kellian and I sat at a table with Matt Dawson (shown below), John Moores and his son, Leon and Allan Stein of PuzzleMaster.ca, and Teddy Sakamoto of Hanayama.

When I heard that Teddy worked for Hanayama, I told him that Hanayama Cast Vortex and Cast Duet were actually the first puzzles I ever bought! When we were leaving, he gave me a copy of Cast H&H, which was really nice of him. Thanks Teddy!

It is a design by Oskar van Deventer, and is a level 5 out of 6. I tried it for 30 minutes or so and haven't had much luck with it. I look forward to solving it and will write more about it when I do.

Finally, it was the moment I had been waiting for: the 2010 Design Competition room was about to open, and I would finally get to try out a whole bunch of new puzzles! Unfortunately, it is going to take me a very long time to write about all of them, so I'm going to have to save it for after I return.

I puzzled until they kicked me out at 10:00 when the room closed, and hung out in the lobby with some other puzzlers until it was time to go to bed. What a day! And tomorrow was going to be the puzzle exchange!


  1. Reading your commentary is almost as good as being there -- such a thorough and enjoyable insider view of the IPP. Have fun at the puzzle exchange!jp

  2. Glad you're enjoying it! It's tough to find the time, but I'm glad to be doing it.

  3. BTP:
    I'll bet a lot of the IPP attendees are calling home to excited report that they've actually met the Editor in Chief of Brian's Damn Puzzle Blog!!


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