Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kumiki Puzzles

A few days ago, I received my shipment of wooden puzzles from Brilliant Puzzles.  Thanks guys!  Some of the puzzles that I received are Japanese puzzles called Kumiki puzzles.  Now before I go on I have to say that I’m a big fan of the Japanese culture.  I’m bordering on being a fanboy.  For example, I love the NarutoShippuden series,  Bunraku, and of course Japanese video games!!!  I’ve been wanting to go to the Akihabara district in Tokyo since I was negative 12.  It’s basically a hub for Japanese geek culture.  Anyway, I wanted to find Japanese puzzles that are fun and easy on the wallet.  I think I found that in the Kumiki puzzles.  In the next few months I’m going to review these Kumiki puzzles but I just wanted to share a little history about these interesting puzzles.  The word Kumiki means “to join wood together” in Japanese.  Early documents indicate that these puzzles started appearing in Japan in the 18th century.  The original purpose for Kumiki puzzles has its roots in Japanese carpentry.  Master carpenters who built temples and shrines would teach apprentices how to make Kumiki puzzles so that way they could learn about Japanese joinery.  Traditional Japanese structures were made without any metal fasteners and were made to withstand earthquakes.  It was important for the apprentices to master the method of creating the interlocking puzzle and then applying those techniques to larger structures.  If you would like to learn a bit more about Japanese joinery please follow the link to an exceptional video on traditional Japanese joinery.  One of the earliest known Japanese puzzle designers was a man by the name of Tsunetaro Yamanaka (1874 – 1954).  Some information on him and other Japanese Kimiki puzzle masters can be found on this page.  I would like to thank Jerry Slocum for giving me the link to his fantastic book on Japanese puzzles called Early Japanese Puzzles by Jerry Slocum and Rik van Grol, which can be found below.  A bit of the historical information provided in this post was found through the material in that book.  Needless to say, it is a great resource if you are interested in the history of Japanese puzzles.  

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