Pandora's Puzzle Boxes
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    Puzzle Boxes From Around The World

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Puzzle Boxes
from Japan

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from Turkey

Puzzle Boxes
from India

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from the USA

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from Poland

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from Costa Rica

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Boxes

Wild West
Puzzle Boxes



Japanese Puzzle Boxes

 
"Sun" is a Japanese measurement unit equal to about 3 cm, or 1 and 3/16 inches.  So, the 2 Sun 7 Step box is about 6 cm long and requires 7 steps to open.  "Mame" means "bean" in Japanese, indicating that this is a very small puzzle box.  Click on an individual puzzle box to see its specific dimensions.



Mame 4 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
Mame 4 Step
Puzzle Box

$29.00
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Mame 4 Step with Drawer Japanese Puzzle Box
Mame 4 Step
with Drawer
Puzzle Box

$39.00
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Mame 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
Mame 10 Step
Puzzle Box

$35.00
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Mame 14 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
Mame 14 Step
Puzzle Box

$39.00
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Mame 12 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
Mame 12 Step
Puzzle Box

$79.00
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2 Sun 7 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 7 Step
Puzzle Box

$29.00
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2 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 10 Step (Ichimatsu)
Puzzle Box

$42.00
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2 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 10 Step
(Kikkou)
Puzzle Box
$42.00
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2 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 10 Step
(Kirichigae)

Puzzle Box
$42.00
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2 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 10 Step
(Kuroasa)

Puzzle Box
$42.00
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2 Sun 4 Step Cube with Drawer Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 4 Step Cube
with Drawer
Puzzle Box

$45.00
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2 Sun 7 Step Cube Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 7 Step Cube
Puzzle Box

$39.00
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2 Sun 12 Step Cube Japanese Puzzle Box
2 Sun 12 Step Cube
Puzzle Box
$49.00
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2.5 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2.5 Sun 10 Step
Puzzle Box
$42.00
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2.7 Sun 12 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2.7 Sun 12 Step
Puzzle Box
$49.00
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2.7 Sun 12 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2.7 Sun 12 Step (Akaasa) Puzzle Box
$55.00
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2.7 Sun 12 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
2.7 Sun 12 Step (Kurosa) Puzzle Box
$55.00
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3 Sun 4 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
3 Sun 4 Step
Puzzle Box

$49.00
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3 Sun 12 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
3 Sun 12 Step
Puzzle Box

$55.00
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3 Sun 14 Step Cube Japanese Puzzle Box
3 Sun 14 Step Cube
Puzzle Box

$79.00
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3 Sun 18 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
3 Sun 18 Step

Puzzle Box
$55.00
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3.5 Sun 18 Step Cube Japanese Puzzle Box
3.5 Sun 18 Step Cube
Puzzle Box
$120.00
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4 Sun 4 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 4 Step
P
uzzle Box
$59.00
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4 Sun 9 Step Coin Bank Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 9 Step
Coin Bank

Puzzle Box
$75.00
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4 Sun 14 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 14 Step
Puzzle Box
$72.00
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4 Sun 21 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 21 Step
Puzzle Box
$85.00
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4 Sun 21 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 21 Step
(Kuroasa)
P
uzzle Box
$95.00
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4 Sun 21 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 21 Step
(Fuji)
Puzzle Box
$169.00
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4 Sun 27 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 27 Step (Bird)
Puzzle Box
$179.00
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4 Sun 27 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
4 Sun 27 Step (Fuji)
Puzzle Box
$179.00
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5 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 10 Step (Fuji)
Puzzle Box
$189.00
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5 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 10 Step (Hinode)
P
uzzle Box
$189.00
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5 Sun 10 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 10 Step (Ranyosegi)
P
uzzle Box
$189.00
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5 Sun 10 Step with Drawer Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 10 Step
with Drawer

Puzzle Box
$125.00
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5 Sun 10 Step with Sound Drawer Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 10 Step
with Sound Drawer

Puzzle Box
$135.00
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5 Sun 14 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 14 Step
Puzzle Box
$105.00
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5 Sun 14 Step (Double Compartment) Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 14 Step
(Double Compartment)
Puzzle Box
$125.00
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Secret House Japanese Puzzle Box
Secret House
Puzzle Box
$169.00
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5 Sun 21 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 21 Step
Puzzle Box

$139.00
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5 Sun 21 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 21 Step (Fuji)
Puzzle Box
$225.00
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5 Sun 27 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
5 Sun 27 Step
Puzzle Box
$159.00
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Pentagon 6 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
Pentagon 6 Step
Puzzle Box

$89.00
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Hexagon 6 Step Japanese Puzzle Box
Hexagon 6 Step
Puzzle Box

$99.00
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Himitsu-Bako


The Japanese term for Puzzle Box is Himitsu-Bako, or "Personal Secret Box."  These puzzle boxes are highly treasured by collectors for a couple of different reasons.  First is the meticulous craftsmanship and clever design of the puzzle box itself.  The Himitsu-Bako range in complexity from Easy to Difficult, and all come with instructions.


The other reason Himitsu-Bako are so highly valued is the beautiful Yosegi Zaiku woodwork applied to the exterior of each puzzle box.  See all those different colors in the intricate mosaic patterns?  Those aren't painted on!  They're the natural colors of different woods, reflecting the great variety of trees for which the Hakone region is famous. 


Yosegi Zaiku


Yosegi Zaiku is a traditional Japanese form of parquetry.  (Marquetry refers to inlaid woodwork with a figural pattern like people or scenery, while parquetry has a geometric pattern.)  The Yoseigu Zaiku technique was developed in the Hakone region of Japan in the mid-19th century, near the end of the culturally rich Edo period.  Hakone is famed for its wide variety of trees, which provide the different natural colors that create the mosaic pattern.

First the wood is cut into small, very narrow rods with geometric cross-sections as required by the design -- triangles, squares, rectangles, and so forth.  A group of rods is glued together into a bundle, again according to the desired design.  The bundles are sawed into sections and glued together side-by-side to create a bigger bundle.  This process is repeated until the cross-section of the bundle reaches the desired size.  Sections with different designs may be glued together into a block called Tanegi, creating an even more intricate pattern.  Then cross-sections of this block are planed off into thin sheets less than a millimeter thick, called Duku.  The sheets of wood are then applied to the surface of handicrafts like trays, chests, and of course, puzzle boxes.

In 1984,  Yosegi Zaiku was designated National Traditional Handicraft.  Since 1989, the number of craftspeople creating Yosegi Zaiku has declined by 95%.


Trees of Hakone


Wondering which trees create which colors in the Yosegi Zaigu woodwork?  Here's a guide:

View of Mt Fuji from HakoneWhite - Dogwood, spindle tree
Yellow - Japanese lacquer tree, wax tree, sumac
Light Brown - Japanese pagoda tree, walnut, camphor tree
Dark Brown - Persimmon, katsura tree
Reddish Brown - Cherry tree, jindai of zelkova tree
Gray - Japanese white bark magnolia
Black - Black persimmon tree, jindai of Japanese Judas tree

(Jindai refers to a tree which has been buried by landslide or volcanic activity for a long period of time.  When dug up and exposed to air, the wood color turns very dark, but retains the original wood grain.)



The History of Himitsu-Bako


Hakone in late 1800sDuring the Edo period, Hakone was a way station on the main highway between Osaka, Japan's commercial center, and Tokyo (Edo), the nation's capital.  The area has long been a resort area that attracts lots of tourists to its famous hot springs and beautiful scenery. 

The Japanese Puzzle Box, or Himitsu-Bako, was developed in Hakone over 100 years ago.  The many travelers to this region made Himitsu-Bako a popular souvenir, and spread appreciation for Yosegi Zaiku woodwork throughout Japan.  Today, fewer and fewer craftspeople produce Himitsu Bako.  Like the beautiful Yosegi Zaiku woodwork, it is a unique art form that is sadly in danger of dying out within the next generation.

Pandora's Puzzle Boxes • PO Box 1812 • Nevada City, CA 95959 • (530) 802-2009 • orders@PandorasPuzzleBoxes.com

 
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