As I mentioned in this post, the Karakuri Creation Group has an interesting business model where you pre-pay for puzzle boxes from the craftspeople of your choice, and receive them at Christmas. I purchased three this year, and was regretting not getting more: they really are the best source for awesome puzzle boxes and are quite reasonably priced.
After Christmas, they sell the remaining Christmas presents by lottery: you let them know which of the remaining puzzle boxes you're interested in, and if you "win" you get to buy it! The pre-Christmas price is $100 and the post-Christmas price is $140, so it is preferable just to get them before, but you don't know what the designs will be before Christmas, so it is a tradeoff. Some folks use this as an opportunity to buy another copy of a box they really like.
The shape makes for a more confusing puzzle since it has 8 sides, while most puzzle boxes have six, so there are more options to try. Plus, we are less accustomed to manipulating this particular platonic solid than a cube, so it is easy to get turned around.
I really liked the inlay on the outside that traces out a loop that crosses each of the 8 faces, though I found it a bit vexing that it disrupted the rotational symmetry. The puzzle has a nice appearance and a great finish, as you would expect from a Karakuri Creation Group puzzle box. The panels slide nice and smoothly.
The solution is not very difficult, I solved it in about a minute and the non-puzzle folks I tried it out on also figured out the solution in less than 5 minutes. That said, the solution is quite elegant and there is a nice little "a-ha" moment when you finally see how it opens.
What I really liked was that it sort of clicks/pops open and shut, which is pretty neat, like it is locking into place. I inspected the mechanism and couldn't see what was causing this. I wonder if this was intentional and whether or not it will reduce with wear.
Overall, it is a great puzzle! I look forward to seeing more of Kawashima's work in the future.
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