Japanese Himitsu-Bako | Exceptional Secret Trick Puzzle Box – Six Steps | Kuroasa Geometric Design | Mid Century
Traditional Japanese Trick puzzle boxes as we know them were first made in the Hakone region from about 1870s by master woodworker, Ryugoru Okawa. They were known as Himitsu-Bako, (Personal Secret Box), and were originally used to store tools, documents or other secrets inside, but soon became common as souveniers for people visiting the hot springs in the area. The Hakone Mountains are noted for their great variety of trees with different natural colors and textures, which craftsmen in the area use to make their elaborate geometric designs.
Although first made more than 100 years ago Japanese Puzzle Boxes remain highly sought after, with puzzlers from around the world collecting puzzle boxes that may take multiple moves sliding pieces hidden with the patterns or secret panels incorporated into the box.
This particular box design is referred to as Kuroasa, (starburst pattern made from shades of dark brown and black wood with fine white wood lines separating each piece: the name translates to Dark Linen.), with a hand etched 2-D drawing on one side, and an interesting cutout, (chalice or two people facing), on the other, with the entire box executed in two colors. The box is in excellent condition with no chips, dings, fading, or warpage, and takes a total of six, (6) moves to open. Dimensions: 5-0”L x 3-0”w x 2-1/8”h.
Additional Information —
The woodworking arts of Hakone have always incorporated intricate mosaic marquetry patterns that are made into a beautiful veneer. This veneer is used to decorate everything from chopsticks and serving trays to the amazing Himitsu Bako (Japanese Puzzle Boxes). Various woods of different colors are harvested, dried, and shaved or cut into different shapes that are then combined to make the basic patterns. These patterns are then arranged to make sheets that are shaved into the veneer to create these unusual, one of a kind designs.
Excellent Condition- In unused, or like-unused condition. No visual or structural or surface wear or damage shown. Pristine. As good as the day it was made.
Great Condition- Appears in slightly used condition but looks "Like New". Some minor wear, but retains the original craft/workmanship. May show minor wear, that does not affect the main design, or associated motif. No cracks, dents, chips or missing elements.
Good Condition- Minor wear which can be restored or repaired; may have surface flaws, like staining or soiling, confined to a small area. The flaw(s) are counterbalanced by another feature, like brilliant color or innovative design. Some fading or the piece may have been altered in some fashion.
Fair Condition- Main aesthetic/design showing damage. Excessive noticeable wear or damage. Worth buying if can be restored/repaired because of its aesthetic or design appeal or rarity. Note: wear/damage consistent with age/use can often enhance the 'Antique' qualities of a piece, giving it a desirable second chance in one's collection