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If there's one thing that truly defines exquisite Japanese craftsmanship, Japanese Puzzle Boxes must be a good candidate for such a recognition. These delicate works of art have been fascinating puzzle enthusiasts all over the world for the last few centuries, and with hundreds of different designs available in all kinds of shapes and sizes, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety, especially when you're starting your collection. Yes, once you get one, it's almost impossible to settle for just the one and you'll almost immediately start pondering about the next acquisitions.
With this one, I have now four Japanese Puzzle Boxes, as you can see below, and the triangle one is the largest so far. Japanese Puzzle Boxes usually have a distinct way to be named: a few words are used to describe the characteristics of every specific box. Since the majority of puzzle boxes have a rectangular appearance they usually don't use any words to describe that characteristic. However, when they move away from the usual shape, they have to describe it - In this case, the name starts with "Triangle". Next, there's a number, which always indicate the minimum number of steps required to open the box. And the last word, describes the pattern used in inlay work for that box - Here, the pattern is Yosegi. Usually, there's also a number accompanied by the word "sun" or "mame". This indicates the size of the box. 1sun = 3cm and 1mame = 1sun. The triangle one doesn't have this particular description, because it's a special shape, measuring about 11.5cm (4.5") in diameter - Just shy of 4sun.
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One thing that I found common among most Japanese Puzzle Boxes is that they're usually pretty easy to solve. Even if you have a 50+ step box, they usually require a straightforward sequence of back and forth similar movements. This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your point of view, but what I think is: if you like, or collect, Japanese Puzzle Boxes, their difficulty level must be among the least important factors for choosing them. Having said that, I do wish they were a bit more challenging, but it's not a deal breaker for me. I just love their gorgeous designs and intricate patterns. If I were to collect difficult puzzle only, I probably wouldn't have half the puzzles I currently own.
Another subtle detail I noticed on my Japanese Puzzle Boxes is that their sliding panels can be quite easily spotted, as the pattern is slightly misaligned with the rest of the box. Now, I don't understand much about crafting, but would that be so difficult to achieve, having to perfectly align the sliding panels with the rest of the box pattern? This is not an isolated mishap, because I see this in all my four boxes, so I believe it's fair to assume it's a general thing common to all Japanese Puzzle Boxes.
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Now, focusing more on the Triangle box itself. It's a 7-step, so a total of seven steps are required to fully open the box. As mentioned above, I didn't have to search that much to find the first sliding panel, since it's fairly easy to see the misalignment in the pattern. Finding the next steps weren't so obvious, but I managed to open it within five minutes. It's always a pleasure to see the box opened, though, no matter how easy it is to solve. There's a space inside large enough to conceal a peace of jewelry or something similarly sized, and because it's not very difficult to open, it could be used as the perfect gift-box - No wrapping necessary, since the pretty pattern already does that job.
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There's a lot of different puzzle boxes out there, but Japanese Puzzle Boxes are a whole different breed. Their unmistakable and mesmerizing patterns invoke special feelings among collectors that are difficult to explain, but I'm sure you'll understand them once you own one - Be warned, though. You won't be satisfied with only one.
Availability: You can get the Triangle Japanese Puzzle Box at PuzzleMaster. If you want to check out other designs by these talented Japanese designers, click here.