Japanese puzzle box

The Japanese puzzle box is a traditional secret box from the Hakone region of Japan, called Himitsu Bako, whose design comes from from over 150 years ago. Here is the origin of the puzzle boxes that are built for the first time in this region, very close to the city of Tokyo.

The design of these secret boxes is made with natural wood from the trees of the Hakone mountains (spindle tree, wax tree, cherry tree and Katsura-jindai tree), a great variety of colors and textures with which to create their wonderful and elaborate geometric patterns.

These puzzle boxes have 2 very famous and popular designs all over the world:

  • Yosegi-Zaiku
  • Zougan

Japanese puzzle boxYosegi-Zaiku

The design of the Yosegi-Zaiku boxes consists of a mosaic with a geometric design in different shades of wood using very thin sheets. This design is also used, in addition to Japanese puzzle boxes, for other types of crafts such as chests or trays.

This technique known as Yosegi-Zaiku has been namedNational Traditional Crafts by the Ministry of Industry and International Trade in 1984.



Zougan Japanese puzzle box

This type of Zougan box is characterized by having images on the top and bottom of the box that have been fitted perfectly into the piece.

Origin of the Japanese puzzle box

We already know what region the puzzle boxes come from, but what were they made for? What was the purpose of these little boxes that are now fantastic entertainment for children and adults?

The origin of these traditional puzzles and the reason they began to be marketed was as a kind of portable safe. A security and protection tool. It was used by those who traveled by carriage to hide their most valuable belongings from the reach of thieves and bandits who robbed the cars on the roads.

Although the first Japanese puzzle boxes were very large and required many steps to open (between 50 and 70), they were also very expensive and this greatly reduced demand while experts in the techniques of making these secret boxes also decreased. For this reason and to increase sales, more modern and also cheaper puzzle boxes were created, which can be solved in fewer steps.

Now these Himitsu-Bako are one of the most famous and desired puzzles all over the world and an excellent gift for family and friends. But today it is not necessary to go to Japan to buy a Japanese puzzle box and enjoy this beauty from the West. If you are looking for an original and curious gift for someone special, this may be the perfect gift. In addition, they are just as attractive for children as for adults.


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