March 30, 2010

Regular Octahedron Secret Box

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.

I entered the lottery for a few boxes, and won a Regular Octahedron Secret Box by Hideaki Kawashima. As you can see, he tends to base his works on geometry. I find octahedrons to be interesting: for some reason I always feel like one of the points is the "top" but really it is completely symmetrical.

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.


  1. 9 faces? That is an unusual octahedron!

  2. Hah, thanks George! The spell checker can't catch that type of error yet!


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