Japanese Hakone Yosegi Himitsubako puzzle boxes or Karakuri boxes (Secret box, Trick box) for purchasing in Tokyo

Updated on 21st May 2019

 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 and repetitive. Karakuri bako (Karakuri means trick), on the other hand, means those boxes made to modern design and the ways they open involve more than just sliding, but also spinning, hitting,  rotating etc.

We introduce you to those puzzle boxes, which you can purchase at our store in Tokyo, 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 purchasing details, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

We also stock a limited line of Hanayama puzzles.

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 occasionally to find new boxes. Some limited edition puzzle boxes are also available and we sometimes do not list them on this blog nor on our online stores, so you may find something very unusual puzzle boxes at our Tokyo store.

  The hardest puzzle box currently available is New Himitsubako No.4­.

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.

    1.Himitsubako

The traditional himitsubako puzzle boxes always slide in the same manner, so the movements are all repetitive. Once you open the harder ones, then you should be able to open the less movement ones very easily.

  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 6,750yen (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 5,700yen  (excluding tax).

This is 4sun 12 times himitsubako.  The size is 11.8 x 8.8 x 5.8 cm and the price is 4,000yen (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 3,400yen (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 4 sun 4 slides himitsubako is a perfect gift for small kids, who might find it is too difficult to open other himitsubako. The movements are very simple, so it can also be used as a practical box. The price is 3,150yen + tax.

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 1,750yen+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 can be opened 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.6, No.7, No.5 and No.1 (the order is in popular order).

karakuribox1

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.

karakuribox2

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 puzzle box collectors. Difficulty level : Easy.

karakuribox3

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.

karakuribox4.1

Karakuri small box No.4 is the cutest looking of all, but the way it opens is relatively easy and only 1 action is required to open the box, so it is not so popular on its own, but many people buy this with No.5 and No.6 because they look deceivingly similar. The shape is the same as No.5 and 6, but the way it opens is totally different from them. Difficulty level : Easy.

karakuribox5

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.

karakuribox6

Karakuri small box No.6 has the same shape as 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 and  No.5 afterward. They are a kind of set. If you want to purchase only one from these three, 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. This box is the most popular box amongst the whole puzzle box collection. Difficulty level : Hard.

karakuribox7

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 at our store could open it within 5 min.

karakuribox8

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. New Himitsubako

The reason it is called New is that as for the traditional Himitsubako puzzle boxes, you can move only limited areas, but as for the New Himitsubako, you can move all 6 surfaces to open. Another reason for the popularity is that you can see the mechanical structures as you open them.

newhimitsubako3.2

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).

There are three different types Ⅰ, Ⅱ, Ⅲ and the prices vary depending on the number of movements you have to move to open. They revamped the design in 2019, but the mechanism is the same as the old ones.

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 5,093yenfor No.1, 5,555yen for No.2 and 6,018yen for No.3 (+8% tax).

 

In 2018 New Himitsubako Ⅳ is introduced and this new type has totally different mechanisms from other three, which makes this box the hardest box. In 2019 it adopted the new design.

 

newhimitsubako4english

newhimitsubako4.2

 

This is New Himitsubako No.4. The size and the basic design are the same as other three, but as you can see, the mechanical structure is very different from others. You need to move at least 32 times, but what makes this box the hardest puzzle box of all is that you need to find the hidden rule. If you really want to try the hardest puzzle box, this is the one you should try. The price is 7,870yen+tax.

      4. 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.

cube1
Karakuri cube No.1

 

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.

cube2
Karakuri cube No.2

 

 

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.

cube3
Karakuri cube No.3

 

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.

cube4
Karakuri cube No.4

 

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.

      5. Walk under the stars karakuri box.

hoshizoranosampo

 

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).

     6. 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 to open like on the photo.

   

    7. 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…. very interesting mechanism. 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).

8. 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. The price is 8,888yen+tax.

 

 

9. Osaru no Kago-ya

 

osarunokagoya1

Osaru means monkey and Kago means palanquin, so as you can see the two monkeys are carrying the palanquin visiting the touristy places in Hakone, Japan.

The large mountain in the middle is Mt. Fuji, so it will be a perfect gift from Japan.

When it is opened, the space inside is relatively large so that you can use it as a practical box like keeping jewelry and accessories etc.

osarunokagoya3

The size of the box is 12 x 8.4 x 4.8cm (inside is 9.4 x 5.9 x 2.8cm) and the price is   8,796yen+tax.

 

10. Cassiopeia box Small Size

cassiopeiaS1

Cassiopeia puzzle box used to be much larger box, but they recently modified it to the smaller size and halved the price to 13,333yen+tax.

 

The top plate has the small dots and that is the clue to open the box. It is so unique and romantic in a way so that you would feel like looking up the stars after opening it. It is a perfect gift for your loved one.

The size is 8.6 x 8.6 x 6.6cm (inside is 6 x 6.6 x 1.8cm).

 

11. Coffee cup box

This is Mr. Akio Kamei’s representative work and it has a coffee cup shape.

coffeecup1
Coffee cup shaped Karakuri puzzle box

It comes with the two blocks of sugar and the spoon. At first, the cup and saucer are connected together, but you can remove the cup from the saucer if you do a right thing.

It is a perfect gift for a coffee lover and it is pretty as an interior decoration too.

The size is 16x16x8.5cm and the price is 40,000yen+tax. This is currently out of stock, but under production.

12.  Moon and bear

 

The bear has been holding the crescent moon on his hand and he somehow looks a bit sad… When he becomes the one he really wants to be, the box opens. It is relatively easy to open, but it will be a cute decorative item on your shelf.

The size is 16cm x 8.5 x 8.2cm and the price is 22,222yen+tax. This is currently out of stock, but I requested the craftsman to produce again. It will be available within this year.

The box is very small with 3.4 x 2.7 x 2.5cm, but you can put something small like rings etc.

 

13.  Grimm’s Wolf Karakuri box

grimmswolf1

The big bellied wolf is lying on a floor asleep after he ate something. That must remind you a Grimm fairy tale. It is not difficult to open, but it is so cute as a part of interior decor item and you can even hide something important in his tummy.

The size is 15.7 x 6.8 x 6cm and the price is 23,333yen + tax. This is limited edition.

 

14.  A chance meeting Karakuri box

 

Mr. Miyamoto originally created this box in 2003 and he released similar boxes from time to time by slightly modifying the mechanisms every time he made. He reproduced his all time favorite this year! This might be the last production of this box.

This box is also not so difficult to open, but it is very romantic box. A heart is drawn on the top, but when you touch it, you will notice that it is actually  not a drawing, but it moves as you touch it.

It would be a perfect gift for your loved ones and you can even use that as a gift box hiding something like a ring etc. I am sure that that person will remember this box for all his or her life.

The size is 8.8 x 8.8 x 7.8cm (inside is 7.3 x 7.3 x 2.7cm) and the price is 21,111yen+tax.

Limited edition.

15.  Kurukuru heart

 

This bar shaped puzzle box is created by Mr. Tatsuo Miyamoto and it has two compartments . When this changes its shape to heart, the lock to the second compartment is released to open. How romantic is that! Although it is easy to open the boxes, it will be a perfect gift for your loved one. The size of the box is 14 x 6 x 6cm and the size of the compartments is 2.7 x 4 x 2.45cm.

The price is 17,778yen+tax. This is a limited edition.

16.  Aquatic bird haniwa box

haniwabird
https://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/maaoyama/144-41.html

This bird was created by Mr. Yoh Kakuda this year having the shape of haniwa bird (haniwa is a primitive form of unglazed pottery made in thumulus period) . It is not that difficult to open, but the way it moves and opens is very unique and cute. It is relatively tall box, so it would look good on your shelf, when it is displayed. The size is 9.8×8.3×15 cm (box inner size is 2.75×4.1×2.6 cm) and the price is 31,111yen+tax). Limited edition

 

17.  Roll dance drawer

Roll dance drawer
https://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/maaoyama/144-39.html

As the title of this box suggests, the two layers of the white rings rotate as if they are dancing and these two rings are rotated in a certain way, that releases the lock for the drawer.

This unique box is not that difficult to open, but the movement is very unusual and the drawer is relatively large size, so you can actually use it as a safe box. Limited edition.

The size is 11.7×11.7×8.7 cm (The size of the drawer storage space is 8.05×8.05×2.4 cm) and the price is 44,444yen+tax.

18.  Karakuri handcrafts kit

We generally have 8 different types of the handcrafts 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 1,573yen(+8% tax).

If you are interested in these kits, please feel free to contact us.

 

We also carry selected line of Hanayama puzzles and you can also play with them at our store.

 

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.

Shipping cost will be around 1,400yen to Asia, 2,000yen to the USA and 2,200yen to European countries with EMS, but cheaper service, which is called epacket, is also available and the price will be about half of EMS, but it will take longer to deliver (e.g. EMS to the USA is about 3 days for the delivery, but it will take about a week for the epacket service).

Contact address is info(at)mabysoshite.com  (please change the (at) to @).

When you order from outside of Japan, the tax will be extracted.

    <Order flow>

1. Choose the box you want and send an email to us (Please tell us your address)

2. We will reply to you with the cost of EMS and cheaper option price for you to choose.

3. We will send you PayPal payment instruction by email

4. We will send the goods as soon as we confirm your payment.

 

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 (Exit 1b has been closed until July 2019, so please use Exit 1a instead and turn around as soon as you go out of the exit). 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!

http://www.mabysoshite.com/access/acces

MA by So Shi Te

2-22-15 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku,

Tokyo Japan 107–0062

Tel: 03-3401-0922

Opening hours: 11:00 – 19:30 (Sat, Sun, NH until 19:00)

*Please check our homepage for holiday information.

If you can read Japanese, you can also order online from our online stores

Yahoo: http://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/maaoyama/a4aba4e9a4.html

Aoyama Market: http://www.aoyamamarket.com/ma/cn50/karakuri.html

* the online stores are only for domestic delivery.

 

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Dymoon says:

    informative, thank you

  2. Charles S says:

    I purchased the Karakuri Dice from MA by So Shi Te because it was the best price I could find online with the lowest cost on overseas shipping to the USA. I reached out via the email address listed on this site and through conversing with Shiro I was able to check on availability and finalize the purchase using a PayPal invoice as the payment method. The order was shipped right after payment and one week later I had the beautiful Karakuri Dice in my hands. It is one of my favorite puzzle boxes I have ever purchased. I highly recommend anyone who comes across this site like I did to reach out so you can purchase what you have been looking for at a great price. Thank you!

    1. Thank you very much for your good review! I really appreciate it. I’m glad to know that you liked the dice box! It was my pleasure serving you!
      Shiro

  3. Steve says:

    I have purchased several Karakuri boxes from Shiro. Shipping to the US is very fast, not too expensive and very reliable. I received one package from Tokyo to California in less than a week. This is easily the best, place to buy high quality japanese puzzle boxes.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Steve san! I really appreciate it. I’m glad to hear that you are satisfied with my service!

  4. Seth Wolfe says:

    I am so grateful to Shiro for offering such excellent customer service. I ordered several Karakuri puzzle boxes as gifts for family members and couldn’t be more pleased with my experience in ordering from him. Shipping was quick to the USA and he followed up on the tracking when the package spent a day or two in customs. I am enamored with the quality and intricacy of these puzzle boxes and know they will be received well by their recipients. His prices are the best I have found but his customer service is even better. Thank you my friend.
    Seth

    1. Thank you very much for taking time reviewing on my service! I was at first worried that it had been taking longer than usual at the customs. I’m really happy to hear that you liked the puzzle boxes! I should have wrapped them if I knew they were gifts.
      Your good review means a lot to me. Thank you!

  5. Vincent Prior says:

    I purchased 2 Karakuri bako (Himitsubako Ⅳ and Karakuri Dice) from the store on Saturday on my way to the airport. They are great and have pride of place on my coffee table. The selection and price was the best I could find anywhere in Tokyo or Kyoto. The customer service was the best of any store I visited in Japn. If I manage to visit Japan again I will come back here again. Thank you

    1. Thank you very much for the excellent review! It mentally helps me a lot to keep running my store especially I’ve been doing this all by myself! It was very nice meeting and talking to your family! Hopefully I’ll see you again in the future!!!

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