23 Mar 2019

Automata, pendant heads and puzzle ring creator, Hideo Fukuda

I found Hideo Fukuda through Twitter long ago. He designs and makes silver accessories and automata. Once you look at his unique sense of designs, you will not forget them.

Recently, one tweet with pictures that he has uploaded caught my eye. Here are the pictures I was fascinated with. It's a maze ring.

The structure of this ring is two layers, an outside ring and an inner ring. There is a tiny projection on the inner ring and the projection can go through between the grooves of maze that are on the outside ring. Yes, that's right. You can play with this ring. Two rings can be separated after you finished solving the maze.

Unfortunately, this ring is one-of-a-kind. However, Hideo says that he is going to commercialize the ring as a slightly improved product with almost the same design. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

He also designs automata. Most of his automata are very small and I feel a little melancholy and warmth about them. Here is a video of his automata.

It's unbelievable making such a small doll that can be moved. It must be a very difficult job.

He designs not only automata, but also works on pendant heads that are made of silver. As you see, those pendant heads are all animal designs.

My favorite is "A cat traveling to space" because it's a pendant head that can be moved by rotating a tiny handle like an automaton. Isn't it fun?

A pendant head of Opisthoteuthis californiana is charming too. It looks like an alien that people imagined long ago or a Pac-Man. One of the surprising things is, he has made octopus's feet finely. That's an amazing work! It seems like this tiny octopus is one of the best seller pendant heads.

There is one design I have never seen. A pendant head of a doll whose organs can be seen. What a unique way of designing! The preferences may be different depending on the person, but there is no doubt that this pendant head is a unique design.

Those accessories he has made used SILVER 925. Until today, I didn't know the meaning of silver 925. I googled it and understood that it means it contains 92.5% of silver. He says that all the works are finished by hand, so the color and texture might differ one by one. In a sense, I think it's nice that all the products are not exactly the same. You can have one thing in the world.

Those beautiful works are available only inside of Japan. If you would like to buy his work, ask your Japanese friend. I put his online shop link below.

Atelier puchuco : http://puchuco.jp/
puchuco's Twitter : https://twitter.com/puchuco709


13 Mar 2019

A versatile puzzle designer, Kohfuh Satoh

I would like to introduce you to a Japanese puzzle designer who has a playful spirit with a design sense. He is Kohfuh Satoh. I don't remember very well, but maybe I first met him at the site where the Academy of Recreational Mathematics, Japan was held.

Here is his portrait that was assembled with tangram. Making a portrait using puzzle pieces is very Kohfuh Satoh. He is quite a puzzle lover.

He is a multiple talented puzzle designer. He pays attention to a variety of wonders and offers various kinds of interesting creations; puzzles, illustrations, writing, event planning, editing books and so on.

For example, this is the mathematical magic book he has participated in editing, "Encyclopedia of Mathematical Magic" (Sorry, this book is only a Japanese version). Here is a photo of "Encyclopedia of Mathematical Magic." The cover design of this book was also his.

This is my personal opinion, there is no one except him who is suitable for drawing illustrations for mathematic or puzzle books because he majored in mathematics at university. It's better for someone who understands the contents of a book to draw illustrations. In fact, he designed the poster for The Mathematical Society of Japan in 2012.

Let's get back to the subject, puzzles.

I found his puzzles at my favorite puzzle shop in Tokyo, Japan, Torito
I guess some of you guys who read this blog visited Torito when you went to Tokyo, Japan for IPP.

Puzzle Shop Torito

Kohfuh feels sorry for puzzle lovers who live outside of Japan that his puzzles are a little difficult to obtain.

He says that his puzzles are not very difficult, but tricky.
What a nice word, tricky! I'm sure that most puzzle lovers love something tricky.
Long ago, I got one of his puzzles "4U." As you see in the picture below, it looks very simple, but it was tricky.
When I uploaded the picture of "4U" onto my blog, some readers said that this puzzle is impossible to solve. No, no, it IS possible.


I'm now interested in the puzzle "Chaplin." Using four pieces you make a bowler hat. He says that "Chaplin" has an element of surprise. I'm a bit curious what it is.

Looking forward to seeing what he is going to do for his next step forward.

Kohfuh's website - Kofth :  http://kofth.com/en.html
Kohfuh's Twitter : https://twitter.com/kohfuhsatoh
Puzzling Times - Kohfuh confuses! : 

1 Feb 2019

Berbard Gutton's water clock

Today's topic is about a water clock.
I have seen a huge water clock in Yokohama, Japan. It's placed in the middle of the big hall of The Bank of Yokohama, Head Office. I went to the bank more than 10 years ago just to look at the water clock.

Here are some pictures of the water clock at the Bank of Yokohama.

This huge water clock was designed by a French physicist, Bernard Gitton. If you search the word "Bernard Gitton", you will find several pictures and videos. I haven't seen it but it seems like there is another water clock in Nagoya, Japan too. Maybe it might be somewhere near you.

Here is one of the videos of Bernard Gitton's water clock.

I was at the bank for about 10 or 15 minutes and tried to figure out how to read the time, but it was a little awkward. As you see in the picture, there is an ordinary clock on the top of the water clock as just a reminder. I don't remember it well now, but I think it moves actively at regular intervals.
This water clock is not practical, yet it has a very interesting mechanism and is artistic. More than anything, it's beautiful isn't it? You can forget the time seeing this clock even if you are looking at a clock.

Bernard Gitton - Physics and Art: https://vimeo.com/28461780

21 Dec 2018

The Mystery of cube-shaped poop

I know this blog is supposed to be written as a puzzle blog. I should write about a topic that is related to puzzles, but I cannot ignore this unique topic. Before I start writing, I will tell you that this topic may not be suitable for people who are about to eat a meal. The reason is, as you already know seeing the title, it's about wombat droppings.

All right. I warned you enough, so if you feel awful while you are eating your meal, I'm not going to accept any complaints, O.K?

I have read an article about wombats. It's on the National Geographic website. The surprising thing is that wombats are the only animals in the world that produce cube-like shaped scat. This article intrigued my curiosity. It's like a biological puzzle.

There is one postulation that is common which is cube-shaped scat cannot be rollable and can be put around the territory to mark its territory to other wombats.

This postulation describes the purpose of using cube-shaped poop, it's not how it is made. I'm interested in how it can be cube-shaped. I thought it's strange that a cube which is about 2 cm size exists in nature. There must be a reason.

The first thing that popped into my head is a process of making macaroni. There are different shapes of macaroni extruders and depending on the extruder attachment, the shape of macaroni would be very different.

Patricia Yang, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says that at first she thought that they have square anuses. However, the samples of intestines of two roadkill wombats showed the expectation was wrong. The pig intestine is a relatively uniform elasticity, but the wombat intestine is a much more irregular shape. She thinks that two distinct ravine-like grooves in the wombats' intestine help make cube-shaped poop.
Hmm, the wombat mystery is getting more interesting.

Mike Swinbourne, from the University of Adelaide, says that the shape of wombat poop is more likely related to the dry environment.
Bill Zeigler, Brookfield Zoo and Peter Clements, the president of the organization of Wombats SA, have the same opinion that two elements, intestine and moisture, might be the reasons.

What I thought strange was "two distinct ravine-like grooves of a wombats' intestine." I wonder why there are two grooves, not four? I couldn't find the picture of two grooves. I wonder if two grooves are spiral or straight?

I think it's rare to see something shaped like a polyhedron in nature. I know bacteriophages have a dodecahedron head or there are rocks that are shaped like a hexagon. I don't think those are strange but wombats!

Can you guess how it's made?
This must be a new type of puzzle challenge from wombats!

photo credit: tomosuke214 ウォンバットの「チューバッカ」@多摩動物公園 via photopin (license) photo credit: Andrew C Wallace upwind via photopin (license)

3 Dec 2018

Kazu Harada, Automata Creator in San Francisco

The world advances towards the development of cutting-edge technology every day. Technological development is remarkable and makes our life convenient. I'm interested in the state-of-the-art technology, it gives me dreams of what I had thought might be impossible would be possible.
Having said that, I like low technology, like automata and cannot run away from the fascination of automata.

As I have introduced him on this blog before, there is an automata creator named Kazuaki Harada (aka Kazu Harada) who has a worldwide reputation.

I have heard that he is going to join the program, "Curious Contraptions, Inside the Fairy Tale Factory" at Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco. This has already started from 8th November until 20th January 2019 and he will join from 3rd December to 15th December 2018. There will be three days off (Fri.7th, Sat. 8th and Fri. 14th) for him during the period. If you would like to meet him, please avoid these days.

Exploratorium "Curious contraptions"

While he is at Exploratorium, one of the events "After Dark" will be held whose theme is "Glow" and he will join the event too. I heard that he is going to make automaton by using something that glows, but he hasn't decided the details yet, so it's going to be a surprise!

After Dark: Glow
Thursday, December 6, 2018  6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Honestly, I have never seen his creations with my own eyes because he lives in Japan and I live in Australia. However, I know his creations are awesome through the internet.

The Nobel Prize Organization seems one which is fascinated with his creations and recognized his talent too. Well, of course, he was not nominated for a Nobel Prize. He has taken on a request from the Nobel Prize Organization and made two automata that are related to two novels; The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and The Bluest Eye.
Those two creations are going to be at the event which is related to the Nobel Prize in Literature that will be held in UAE in February 2019.

In March 2019, he is going to attend World Wood Day in Austria. He attended the same event this year that was held in Nepal. I found a YouTube promotion video of World Wood Day where Kazu and his wife wearing funny glasses are on the video.

His activity is spectacular, but there is more. I heard that there is a plan to publish his book. Isn't it wonderful? I'm anticipating more activities from him in 2019.

What? Oh, yes, my automata plan. Well, yes of course, as I have written I will make the second automaton next year. I promise.
Kazu is a man of the world creator and I'm a woman of my word creator.

Kazuaki Harada: https://twitter.com/kazu_automatist
Kazuaki Harada Tiwtter: https://twitter.com/nizosha
Exploratorium Twitter: https://twitter.com/exploratorium