Kathleen in Japan

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~This information was current as of August 2000.

kam_hakone.JPG (40744 bytes) Finally!  I have arrived in Hakone, Japan, the birthplace of Yosegi handicraft and Japanese secret boxes.

At a Puzzle Cart in the Akihabara district of Tokyo.  

The proprietor has a wonderful selection of puzzles and is very good at describing how they work to everyone, including non-Japanese speaking puzzlers. 

Here he has put up a sign to welcome attendees of the International Puzzle Party in Tokyo, August of 2001. 

Welcome IPP.JPG (38521 bytes)
display4.JPG (27528 bytes) A selection of traditional Japanese puzzle boxes and contemporary Japanese puzzle boxes. 

Even without the hamburger on the lower left, its enough to make your mouth water! 

These are found at the best shop in Hakone Machi, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.  This shop is a must for puzzle box nuts who find themselves in the area.

This is a display describing the making of the himtsu bako, or secret box.

It is located in the Yosegi Kaikan Hall in Hatajuku, near Hakone town.

display1.JPG (32179 bytes)
display2.JPG (26810 bytes) This is part of the above display explaining how the yosegi is shaved off into thin sheets in preparation for mounting onto the boxes.

An amazing display piece of a miniature home made using yosegi handicraft.   This was in a yosegi gift shop in Hatajuku, near Hakone.

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Tower.JPG (74523 bytes) This beautiful tower of yosegi samples is located in the a fine  craft shop in Hakone, Japan.
Here, I am enjoying  a collection of older kumiki, displayed in the Kanagawa Arts and Crafts Technology Center in Odawara.

Everywhere I turned in Japan, there were more puzzles!

kam_kumiki.JPG (21708 bytes)
trees.JPG (48677 bytes) This is a famous spot in Japan called the Avenue of Cedars.  These cedars were planted in 1618 and line a portion of the Tokaido Road in Hakone, an historic roadway between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo).  About 420 of these trees remain today.

A placard (in English!) in the Hatajuku Yosegi Kaikan Hall.

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yosegi1.JPG (25902 bytes) A display of the many woods used in the making of yosegi.  These woods are used for their wide variety of colors.

A craftsman in the Hatajuku Yosegi Hall answering questions and demonstrating the art of yosegi craft.  Even though he only spoke Japanese, his demonstrations were very informative.

yosegi2.JPG (47105 bytes)
yosegi3.JPG (27710 bytes) My camera couldn’t keep up with his speed at shaving off a slice of yosegi!

Notice how he sits as he works, with everything he needs within an arm's reach.

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Workshop1.JPG (31358 bytes) Yosegi blocks in various states of completion.

The craftsman's workbench and yosegi plane.  These planes come in many different sizes.

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market.JPG (38724 bytes) The historic Asakusa district of Tokyo. 

Healing incense burns in this pot outside  an Asakusa temple.   People wave the smoke toward themselves in a ritual of healing.  You see me here because I was losing my voice, and I felt this just might be the ticket.

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workshop4.JPG (26889 bytes) A yosegi craftsman in Hatajuku explaining his craft.  After he built yosegi blocks, he would turn them on a lathe to make goblets and other objects.

Behind him you see some of the yosegi blocks he has made.

workshop5.JPG (33820 bytes)
KAM Kamei.JPG (26914 bytes) Here I am presenting Akio Kamei (far right) with some fine woodworking magazines from the US. 

Honestly, I don’t think Kamei-san needs any pointers, but I thought he would find the western style of fine woodworking, as presented in the magazines, interesting. Between us is Naoaki Takashima.

Tom Lensch and I are ready for more puzzle shopping in Hakone.

kam_tom.JPG (31735 bytes)

Still More Photos

 

A mechanical puzzle is a self-contained object, composed of one or more parts, which involves a problem for one person to solve by manipulation using logic, reasoning, insight, luck, and/or dexterity.” - Jerry Slocum

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