View Cart Checkout 
Unique Gifts and Home DecorSushi & Sake Sets, Chopsticks, Tea Sets and moreJade, Bronze, Wood, Bone, and moreJewelry, Silk Scarves, Ethnic Purses, Jewelry Boxes  
Woodblock Prints, Tapestries, Silk Embroidery, and moreIncense & Burners, Buddhas, Bells & Gongs, Tibetan Art  
Homepage | About Us | Shipping | Reference | Mailing List | Help
Search for:
Sign In

Feng Shui
Gifts & Decor
Netsuke & Inro
Shop By Creature
Snuff Bottles
Tea Shop
The Clearance Items

About Our Japanese Puzzle Boxes

Our puzzle boxes are each individually handcrafted in the city of Hakone, Japan and imported by us directly from the artists offering the best quality and pricing available. The skills have been passed down through the generations since the Edo Period. Each box comes with instructions on how to open the box, but give it a try first. The size of each box is measured in "Sun". See chart below for conversion. 

> Click Here for a Glossary of Terms used in Japanese Puzzle Boxes <

Puzzle Box Size Conversion Chart

Sun Size Size in MM Size in CM Size in Inches
1 sun / mame 45 mm 4.5 cm 1.75 inches
2 sun 60 mm 6 cm 2.4 inches
2.5 sun 75 mm 7.5 cm 3 inches
3 sun 90 mm 9 cm 3.6 inches
4 sun 120 mm 12 cm 4.8 inches
5 sun 150 mm 15 cm 6 inches
6 sun 180 mm 18 cm 7.2 inches
7 sun 210 mm 21 cm 8.4 inches

How they are Made

The mountains surrounding Hakone, Japan contain a very wide assortment of trees, the wood of which comes in a wide variety of colors and shades. The colors seen in our puzzle boxes are all natural and no dyes are used.

Wood from the various trees are cut into slices, cylinders, and other shapes. These shapes are then glued together to form different patterns. This process is repeated until it reaches a size that will cover the top of one of the boxes. The laminated wood is then sliced using a special wood plane to produce thin veneer. This veneer is applied to the puzzle boxes. How the boxes themselves are made (the steps required to open) is a very well guarded family secret. Each workshop and artist has developed their own system for making the boxes.

Tree Species by Color (these are just a few)

Color Species
White Spindle Tree, Ilex Macropoda, Mizuki
Black Aged Katsura, Kurogaki, Japanese Judas Tree
Yellow Sumac, Mulberry, Nigaki
Brown Camphor, Maackia, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Kurogaki
Purple American Walnut
Blue Japanese Cucumber Tree
Red Chinese Cedar

> Click Here for complete list of wood used along with pictures <

The History of the Art

Hakone has long been known as a stopping point along the famous Tokaido Road. The steep hills and mountains surrounding Hakone made it a natural place for travelers to stop and rest before continuing on to their destination. Over the years, many services were made available to the travelers including hotels and resorts. Because of the sporadic traffic, the people in Hakone needed something to occupy their time and add to their income.

The huge assortment of natural wood became the perfect base material for arts and crafts that developed. The Japanese Puzzle Boxes actually merge two different crafts into one. The first being the art of marquetry and the second being the design of the puzzle box and the moves required to open them.

> Click Here to see Hakone as pictured in the 53 Stations by Hiroshige <

Product Details

Pictured here is a close-up of a Yosegi patterned box. This is the most popular of designs. First, as many as a dozen different patterns are created. These patterns are then connected making an amazing marquetry sheet made from as many as a thousand tiny pieces. These thin marquetry sheets are applied to the outside of the box. Our Muku boxes are made from solid wood rather than veneer and the pattern goes all the way through the box. The designs of the Muku boxes are not as detailed as the marquetry boxes, but still beautiful all the same.

> Click Here for pictures of the most popular patterns <

Care and Handling

As with any items made from wood they will swell when exposed to high temperatures, liquids, or humidity. Japanese puzzle boxes should be protected from extremes in temperature and humidity. The inside of your home or office is fine, just keep them away from direct sunlight.

To clean the boxes, simply wipe with a clean cloth. There is a protective finish applied to each box, so there beauty and color will last for years with virtually no maintenance. We recommend that you do not use furniture polish on the boxes. If you wish to use a polish on the box, spray it first, very lightly onto the cloth to prevent to polish from accumulating in the seams of the puzzle box which could make that wood swell and become more difficult to open. 

> Click Here to shop our Japanese Puzzle Boxes <

Shop our
Puzzle Boxes
More Designs
in Stock


About Us | Contact Info | Email Us | Homepage | Main Mall Page | Help