July 14, 2010

Karakuri Exhibit (Part 3)

Continuing along on my 3-part series about the awesome Karakuri Creation Group exhibit at IPP3, here are the last three tables in the exhibit. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

I'm not too sure about the actual names of a number of the puzzles on this table, since many are not on the website or in the Karakuri Creation Group book. I think all of the stuff on the near side of the table is by Humio Tuburai. The little cart was cute, and has a unique mechanism that is related to the fact that it is a cart. I did not attempt String Box Part II (2009) and also did not try Just a Minute (2007), though I saw Jim Strayer working on it and understand the principal. I'm curious how the mechanism actually works. The larger box with the pillars and the purple block on the top had a lot of misdirection in it, which I don't like much. The actual solution is pretty simple.

The man on the toilet is an interesting idea: you actually need to guide the little person to do the correct motions in order to unlock the box. Pretty neat idea! The see-saw seemed to work like I would have expected. Though I don't think I got it entirely figured out, I was able to open and close it. Finally, Chocolate Cake (2010) is also somewhat interesting. It has an unusual motion that could take a little while to figure out.

Kazuyuki Tanaka and Humio Tuburai collaborated on Open Top (2000), which works like you would expect. What you might not expect is the speed at which you need to spin it: you really need to get it going for it to unlock! The cool part is that you need to pluck the top off while it is spinning, and the open base continues spinning.

The Card Case Karakuri Plane (2007) was made by Yukio Ogura. It isn't really a puzzle, though it is pretty neat. As you use the plane on the included piece of wood, it dispenses a business card much like a wood shaving from a plane. You can't really see it in the picture, but in the back right is his Ice Lolly Card Case (2010), which is a simple puzzle box that can also contain business cards.

I'm not sure who made the large box, but it was kind of interesting: depending on which combination of the top 3 slides you slide, you can open one of the drawers on the front. It wasn't much of a puzzle since the operation was indicated by labelled pieces of tape, though.

This next table had a bunch of puzzles by one of my favorite puzzle-box craftsman, Hiroshi Iwahara. He has done a bunch of cool stuff recently, so definitely keep an eye on him. Onigiri/Rice Ball (2008) is a nice little box, but not particularly challenging. It has two compartments that can be unlocked. The next box is called Super-CUBI (2000), which is a trinary version of Kamei's binary box Cubi. It takes 324 moves to open, so I didn't actually open this one.

I did not solve Ichigo Shortcake (2006) and I didn't try Sushi (2008) since Kellian bought it for me and I wanted to save it for when I get home. Look for a full writeup on it once I finally get to writing about the stuff I bought. (It is quite cool!)

The Pencil Stand (2009) is a nice little box that is also functional. It is easy to access the hidden compartment, but easy to miss the fact that there is a second one, so keep looking! I played around with Box with a Tree (2007), the simple-looking box with the small tree on it, but was unable to figure it out. This is another one that I would like to revisit at some point, since it sounds like it has an interesting solution. I didn't attempt Byway Secret 2 (2002), since I heard it was similar to Rob Jones' exchange puzzle which I purchased, so I didn't want to spend time on it.

Secret Base (2007) is an awesome puzzle, I actually ended up purchasing it at the puzzle party later today. Finally, I tried Sliding 3 Drawer Chest (2009), which is a cute little puzzle as well, but not too difficult.

Hooray, I'm on the last table! The first box in the lower left, Goat Card Case (2009) by Kanae Saito, isn't really a puzzle. You place a card in the front, and when you open the drawer the goat picks it up. When you close the drawer, he drops it into the box. Somewhat cute, but not my kind of thing. Taiyaki Card Case is similarly not much of a puzzle, it has a simple mechanism to open it and can store some business cards.

Continuing down the line are puzzles by Yoko Kakuda, who tends to do a lot of animal themes, as you can see. The one with the penguin is called Goodnight (2007), and is pretty cute, though simple. Rice Bird (2007) lays an egg as you solve it, which is somewhat amusing. Again, the solution is pretty simple. Adhesive Tape (2008) was more interesting and challenging, it took me a minute or two to figure this one out and I liked it. My Butter (2008), the cow, is another fairly simple one, but I enjoyed it. Gombo (2009), the cat, is another fairly simple one that wasn't one of my favorites. Secret Stripes (2009) is a zebra that is not in the picture. The stripes are perfect for concealing the hidden sliders, which makes this one a bit trickier. I also enjoyed this one.

Starting in the far back corner are two puzzles by Hideaki Kawashima. The light-colored one is called Rose (2010) and is his 2010 design competition entry. I liked it, though the movement was a bit stiff. Compared to the flowing curves of Kamei's Rose, the square shape of this one was less pleasing. However, the way it opens is like a rose, so that was nice. It requires five moves to open, compared with Kamei's three. The second box is Regular Dodecahedron Box (2008), which I didn't have time to try, unfortunately.

Finally, the last two boxes are by Kyoko Hoshino who likes to incorporate fabric into her trick boxes. The plaid fabric box is called Wrapping Box and was her 2010 Christmas present. I was actually pleasantly surprised with this one! There is a box in the bag, and you can't take it out, but you can still access a hidden compartment. Pretty interesting concept, since you can't rely much on sight to figure out what is going on here.

The second box is Dango/Japanese Cake (2009). This one is a bit odd, since the drawer slides open without any effort, which confused me a bit since I didn't know if there was anything else to it. I played around with it for a while without any luck and since I was out of time, I asked Miyamoto for the solution. It is pretty simple, but I hadn't found it. The cloth made me a bit reluctant to fiddle with it, since I was unsure of what I can do without the fabric coming unglued.

Alright! That brings us to the end of this three-part series on the Karakuri exhibit. As you can see there were a ton of amazing boxes and I had a great time trying them out! I was pretty happy that I was able to make my way through them in 3 hours, even though I skipped a few and wasn't able to solve them all. It is very interesting to see so many of the ideas that this group has come up with, they certainly are creative. In the next post, I'll continue my regular blogging about the rest of the last day of the puzzle party.


  1. Wow! I feel sorry that I went to the talks and missed all this. :^(

  2. It was surprisingly empty, there were only a few other people checking it out during the lectures.


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