Akio Kamei

Akio Kamei is possibly the best known designer of contemporary trick opening boxes in the world. His boxes usually appear to be artistic wooden versions of everyday objects like radios, toasters, dice, books, etc., but they are, in fact, trick opening boxes. The mechanisms are always ingenious and disguised into the box so that even if you manage to open it, you will still not know how it works. Though quite expensive, they are really works of art.
Akio is a member of the Karakuri Creation Group, group of Japanese craftsmen specializing in trick opening boxes. You can join the Karakuri Club, which will give you advance notice of new items, a discount on the purchase price and a Christmas "gift" that is typically worth the cost of membership. Information is available on the web site. Akio also has a personal web site. On the Karakuri Creation Group, web site, Akio has the following to say about himself:
"At first I began to create wooden boxes with an idea of a secret box and then looked for a broader meaning. I gave it the name "Karakuri box" (trick box) rather than the secret box. Finally "Karakuri box" (trick box) was born. The trick box which you open yourself, can't be opened if you don't enjoy humor. Someone who has no experience with trick boxes and others who have many experiences, toe the same line. Sometimes the knowledge or the experience disturb his trial. I'm usually thinking about how I can deceive people with my puzzles. And so I wonder if my personality has come out in my work."
Proper care and storage of Kamei boxes is very important. Attempting to slide panels and pushing around on different parts, your fingers can easily slip and a fingernail can mar the surface. I personally think it's a good idea to were a pair of disposable latex gloves when handling them. It is not a good idea to leave then setting out unless the humidity is maintained. I keep mine in a display case with a glass of water inside. Though I still have some change from season to season, it is minimal.
Bits & Pieces has made arrangements with Kamei to have many of his boxes produced in Taiwan. These versions sell for $20 to $50. This has put Kamei's boxes within reach of any collector.

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