Updated on 21st Sept 2017
Japanese puzzle box is a general term to describe various types of boxes which you need to do something to open like sliding, spinning, hitting etc. Himitsubako (Himitsu means secret and bako means box) generally indicates those specific boxes which are traditional puzzle boxes with yosegi marquetry covering them and they can normally be opened only with sliding movements and the movements are always similar. Karakuri bako (Karakuri means trick and bako means box), on the other hand, means those boxes made to modern design and the ways they open involve more than just sliding, but also spining, hitting, rotating etc.
These boxes have historically been made in Hakone area of Japan and they are located in the area which is about two hours train journey from Tokyo.
We introduce you to those puzzle boxes, which you can purchase at our store in Tokyo and you can, of course, visit our store here in Aoyama, but you can also order by email and we can send them overseas by EMS or send them to the designated hotels or places within Japan after confirming your payment by PayPal. For the payment details, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Our shop is located only 2 stops away from Shibuya on Tokyo Metro Ginza line. For the details of how you can reach us, please scroll down this page.
All of these boxes come with instructions and can be gift wrapped.
We generally stock over 35 different types of these boxes and the new ones have constantly been added from time to time, so please check the list below from time to time to find new boxes. Some limited edition puzzle boxes are also available and we sometimes do not list on this blog nor on our online stores, so you may find something very unusual puzzle boxes at our Aoyama store.
Tax Free Shopping – We are registered tax free store of Japan, so if you are a short term visiter of less than 6 months visa and if you bring your passport, you can enjoy tax free shopping at our store (only when the total goes over 5,000yen). So if you are visiting our store, please make sure to bring your passport.
We usually stock about 5 different types of Himitsubako at our store and the collection has constantly been expanding.
5 sun 21 times Himitsubako. Sun is written 寸 and 1 sun is about 3.3cm. So 5 sun is the width of about 15cm. The size is 15 x 9.8 x 6.5cm (inside space is 10 x 7.5 x 3.8cm). The price is 5,700yen (excluding tax). This is large enough to keep valuables in it and you need to move 21 times to open. It is relatively difficult to open, so if you like puzzle box and want to try something difficult, this will be the best choice, but we also have easier one with 10 movements.
This is 5 sun 10 times one. The size is the same as the one with 21 times. This box is popular for small kids, because it is considerably easier than that of 21 times. The price is 4,700yen (excluding tax).
This is 4sun 12 times himitsubako. The size is 11.8 x 8.8 x 5.8 cm and the price is 3,500yen (excluding tax). This 4 sun is considerably smaller than that of 5sun, so please check the measurements of these two boxes and compare carefully before making any decisions.
This is 4sun 7 times himitsubako. The size is the same as the above and the price is 3,100yen (excluding tax). It can be opened with only 7 movements, so it is very easier to open, so if you prefer something very easy one or if it is a gift for little kids, this might be suitable, but it will be too easy for adults.
As you can see on the photo, it is structurally much easier than that of 12 times, so it gives more space inside.
This is the smallest 2 sun himitsubako available at our store and it is about 6cm wide. The size is 6 x 4.6 x 3.7cm. This can also be opened with only 7 movements, so it is very easy to open. The price is only 1,550yen+tax. You can put a little gift in it, so many people use this as a gift box.
2. Karakuri small boxes
There are 8 different types of Karakuri small boxes and they are all 3,050yen (excluding tax). The sizes are all around 5cm, so very small, but they open with unique movements, so they are also popular at our store. Some of them are very easy to open, but others are difficult in different ways.
The logo on the top is inlaid and says Karakuri (からくり), which means trick in Japanese.
The popular ones are No.7, No.6, No., 5 and No.1 (the order is in popular order).
Karakuri small box No.1 is relatively difficult and you need to move 3 times to open. The second movement is relatively difficult to find out and moves in a slightly unique way, so I personally like it. Difficulty level : Hard.
Karakuri small box No.2 is the easiest one. It opens with only 2 movements, but the way it moves is very unique, so it is popular amongst the puzze box collectors. Difficulty level : Easy.
Karakuri small box No.3 can be opened with 4 movements and it is relatively easy. This is popular for small kids. Difficulty level : Easy to Medium.
Karakuri small box No.4 is the cutest looking of all, but the way it opens is relatively easy and only 1 action is necessary to open the box, so it is not so popular on its own, but when this is purchased with No.5 and No.6 as a set, it will be fun. The shape is the same as No.5 and 6, but the way it opens is totally different from them. Difficulty level : Easy.
Karakuri small box No.5 involves very unique movements and many people find it is hard to open. You need to do something first and eventually you need to slid to open, but the first initiation is hard to find. Difficulty level : Hard.
Karakuri small box No.6 has the same shape as Karakuri small box No.4 and 5 and all of them open in different ways and it is fun to try this No.6 box first and then try No.4. You can then try No.5. They are a kind of set. If you want to purchase only one from these three series, then I would choose No.6. It involves only 1 action to open, but it is so unexpected, so many people find it hard to open. Difficulty level : Hard.
Karakuri small box No.7 is my favorite and it is also the hardest amongst them. You need to move only 3 times and it is relatively easy to find the first two movements, but the last one is so unexpected. I would say only 5 % of those people tried to open it at our store could open it within 5 min.
Karakuri small box No.8 does not look like a box at all and it opens with very unique way, but the space you can store inside the box is very limited (only few pills can be kept inside), so it is not quite a box, but it is just like a wooden toy.
3. Karakuri Cake boxes
Karakuri cake boxes look like cakes, so they are popular for girls. They look so tasty, but they can hold things inside like other puzzle boxes.
The sizes are all 6.5ｘ4.5ｘ4.2cm and the price is 2,870yen (+ 8% tax)
This is a chocolate cake box and you need to move 4 times to open. This is the most popular cake amongst this cake series.
Marble cake is the easiest cake box and is popular for little girls. It opens with 3 movements.
This is a cheese cake and relatively easy. It also opens with 3 movements.
4. New Himitsubako
The reason it is called New is that as for the traditional puzzle boxes, you can move only limited areas, but as for the New Himitsubako, you can move all 6 surfaces to open.
There are three different types and the prices vary depending on the number of movements you have to move to open.
This is when the boxes are opened and the sizes are all the same. 8 x 8 x 8 cm (inside is 4 x 4 x 4.5cm).
The basic movements are all the same, and the box with 1 line (New Himitsubako No.1) can be opened with 6 movements, the box with 2 lines (New Himitsubako No.2) is 12 movements and the box with 3 lines (New Himitsubako No.3) can be opened with 18 movements).
The basic one is No.1 and each surface moves only once, but as for the No.2, you need to repeat the same movements twice so the total movements double to 12 movements. The same logic applies to the No.3 and you need to repeat the same movements three times.
Either No.1 or No. 3 are popular ones.
The prices are 3,700en for No.1, 4,070yen for No.2 and 4,630yen for No.3 (+8% tax).
5. Karakuri cubes
Karakuri cubes are also popular because they look cute and they will be attractive objets on their own. All of them open with different movements, but the most popular one is No.2.
All of them are 3,240yen (+8% tax) and the size is all 6cm.
This Karakuri cube No.1 can be opened with 3 movements. You need to move two areas of the square on the surface and when you pull the box apart, it opens.
Karakuri cube No. 2 can be opened with 5 movements and it is similar to No.1 i.e. you need to move 4 squares on the surface and when you pull the box apart, it opens. This is the most popular box of this series.
Karakuri cube No.3 is the easiest of all and it opens with only two movements. Although this box is easy to open, it can be used as a practical box to keep valuable things in it, so it sells well at our actual store.
Karakuri cube No. 4 can be opened with 4 movements. You need to move 3 squares of the surface and the last one comes apart when it is pulled.
6. Walk under the stars karakuri box.
This karakuri box is relatively large and the size is 8.5 x 12 x 6.3 cm (inside size is about 6 x 9.5 x 4cm). The price is 8,300yen (+8% tax).
This is a little expensive, but it is large enough to be used as a practical box to keep something in it such as jewelries etc, so it will be a perfect gift for your loved ones.
As you can see, it comes with the little bear and you need it to open the box. The clue is the title).
7. Karakuri Dice
This box is relatively large sized with 7.8cm wideth. The price is 11,110yen (+8% tax). Although it is expensive, it is popular at our store. When you do something, the surface with 6 dots slides open like on the photo.
8. Karakuri Gift Box
Karakuri gift box can be opened with only 1 sliding movement, but it is much easier than other types of Karakuri boxes, but the box is large enough to be used as a gift box putting a present inside. It can also be used as an accessory box, so it is a perfect gift for your girlfriend and wife etc.
The size is 11.9cm x 7.9cm x 5.9cm (inside is 9.5ｘ6.7ｘ3.8cm). The price is 8,300yen (+8% tax).
9. Double lids Karakuri Box
The box has two lids and the first one can be opened by simply lifting the lid and then the second lid appears, which does not look like moving at all. The lid does not move at all unless you do something…. This is my favorite Karakuri box of all. The size of the box is 11.9 cm x 8.4cm x 5.7cm (inside is 7.1 x 4.1 x 3.4cm) and the price is 11,110 yen (+8% tax).
10. Karakuri Egg box
Karakuri egg box is made of Sakura cherry wood. The clue is its shape. If you do something, it opens like an egg cracks. The size is 6 x 6 x 8cm (inside is approximately 2 x 4cm), so it is slightly larger than normal chicken egg.
11. Karakuri houses
One obvious drawback of karakuri boxes is that you have to move certain number of times every time you open them, so they may not always be practical as boxes to keep things in them. These karakuri houses, however, are made to be used as a box with a little trick to open, so although they are not that big, they are practical. All of them can be opened with only one movement.
The church karakuri box is a perfect box to keep wedding ring etc.
This house is called Newly built home.
This house is called four color mansion, that is because the window colors can be changed depending on how you put the lid on. This mansion type is the most popular one amongst the house series.
The sizes of these houses vary depending on the styles, but they are around 8cm and the price is all 4,630yen (+8% tax).
12. Planet box with a ring Ⅱ (枠星Ⅱ）
This box is designed by Mr. Hideaki Kawashima and it is one off limited edition, so when it is sold out, they are not intended to be reproduced again.
It is like just a piece of wooden art, but it is also a box. You have to remove the wooden ring to open the box, but it is not that simple.
It is structurally impressive box!
The price is 26,700yen+tax.
The size is 13cm in diameter (ring size) and 6cm (actual box outer size).
13. Secret base 秘密基地
When you were a kid, I believe many of you played in a so called “Secret base”, which was often made with cardboard boxes in your house. Those secret bases featured on cartoons and science fiction movies have very unique gates, which often open in unusual way.
This Secret base box is inspired by the secret base appeared in those cartoons and SF movies and it opens like the gate to go into the base. The way it moves is so cool!!!! I personally like it very much.
This box has two compartments and the second compartment is hidden under the first one.
The size of the box is 9 x 9 x 6.5 cm and the price is 14,444yen + tax.
14. Karakuri handcraft kit
We generally have six different types of the handcraft kits. The wooden parts are inside the plastic bags and with a glue, you can make your own karakuri box (the glue is not included, so you have to prepare that yourself).
Good things about these kits are that you can learn how these boxes are made and these parts are not coated, so you can customize them by painting them.
The prices are all 1,500yen (+8% tax).
If you are interested in these kits, please feel free to contact us.
Tax Free Shopping
When the total of your purchase exceeds over 5,000yen, you can claim for tax free shopping. We need your passport to do that, so please do not forget to bring it with you, when you visit our store in Tokyo.
How to purchase them?
You can either visit our store in Tokyo or you can send us emails and we can send them overseas by EMS or send them to those designated hotels or places within Japan where you specify after confirming your payment.
Please choose the boxes you want to purchase and we will calculate the cost of EMS (we normally provide cheaper option if it is available) and we will request the payment with Paypal to you by email. We will send it to you right after we confirm your payment.
For domestic delivery within Japan, the shipping cost is only 648yen and it is free when the total goes over 10,800yen.
Contact address is info(at)mabysoshite.com (please change the (at) to @).
How to visit us in Tokyo?
The shop is only 1min walk from Gaienmae station （外苑前駅）Exit 1b on Ginza line Tokyo Metro. When you walk up the stairs of the exit 1b, you just need to walk straight for about 100m and our store is on the right side of the street on the ground floor.
Gaienmae station is only 2 stops away from Shibuya on Tokyo Metro Ginza line.
If you are a visitor, please bring your passport, so you can enjoy tax free shopping!
You can also find a map on our HP!
MA by So Shi Te
2-22-15 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku,
Tokyo Japan 107–0062
If you can read Japanese, you can also order online from our online stores
Aoyama Market: http://www.aoyamamarket.com/ma/cn50/karakuri.html
* only for domestic delivery.