January 27, 2011

2010 Karakuri Club Christmas Presents (Part 3)

To start off my final post about the 2010 Karakuri Club Christmas Presents, I've saved Akio Kamei's Parcel Box. I saved it for the end because this is the box that took me the longest to solve, and it is also the one that I'm a most on the fence about whether I like it or not.

The external appearance is much like his earlier works Parcel and Parcel Cube. I like the use of dark and light wood: if you look closely, you'll see that the pattern of the straps on the outside is arranged like borromean rings. This gives the appearance a nice symmetry.

I struggled with this one for quite a while! At first, it appears like a solid block, nothing will budge. Due to the design, there are lots of things to try sliding. Eventually, I found something ever so slight that hinted at the solution. I spent quite a while fiddling with this subtle thing that I found before I finally figured out how to solve it. In all, I think this one took me maybe 2-3 hours spread out over a few days. It is a tough one!

The thing that irks me about this puzzle is that the actual solution is awkward. It does have an unusual move for a puzzle box, but actually physically executing this move is challenging. With a little practice, I got the hang of it, but that aspect annoyed me a bit. The thing that I really liked about this puzzle is that the solution is simple, but non-obvious. I always enjoy a challenge that ends up having a simple solution like this, since all sorts of crazy complicated solutions go through your head while you are trying to solve it.

This last puzzle box is by Hiroyuki Oka and is named
Double Puzzle Box. He sort of gives away a bit of the surprise in the description of the puzzle, so I would avoid reading it if you can.

The external appearance is nice, with a cool checkered yosegi pattern. Since it appeared to be proportioned like a traditional Japanese puzzle box, I tried the usual things, but nothing worked! However, I soon figured out what I was doing wrong and discovered the first part of the solution.

Based on some clues, I knew I wasn't done yet and proceeded to solve it completely. It isn't too challenging, but there is a nice little surprise at the end. That said, there isn't really anything that is all that novel about this box. I prefer puzzle boxes that have something that I've never seen before, and this has (pretty much) been done before. There is one aspect about the 'surprise' that was a bit surprising and out-of-the-ordinary, but that still didn't quite do it for me. Still, I will continue to purchase Oka's Christmas Presents, since his last few have been pretty clever.

That's it! I can hardly wait until next Christmas already! Getting these puzzles is pretty much the highlight of my puzzle-buying for the year.

All posts in this series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three (you are here)


  1. Excellent reviews Brian! You've given me the push I needed to join the Karakuri Club myself.

  2. Awesome, Oli! I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


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