A recovering mathematician, Kagen is a full-time artist renowned for his complex secret opening boxes — boxes that are legendary among the secretive worldwide community of pu ...read more
A recovering mathematician, Kagen is a full-time artist renowned for his complex secret opening boxes — boxes that are legendary among the secretive worldwide community of puzzle collectors. His creations range from small pocket sized boxes to massive shifting pattern tables with trick drawers, and they often artfully express mathematical ideas.
Kagen once made a puzzle box he couldn’t solve. He had to work up an algorithm to show him how to unlock the box (which took longer than making the actual box).
Among his accolades: Kagen's work received the grand prize and people's choice awards numerous times in the international NobYoshigahara puzzle design competition. He is acknowledged as a master craftsperson by the Karakuri Creation Group, the world's only guild of secret box makers in Japan. He received the Sam Loyd Award in 2009, a lifetime achievement award presented by the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors.
Outside of his wood shop, you can find Kagen…in other wood shops. He teaches classes, demonstrates his unique techniques, and helps to promote Kezuroukai — an event where people duel with hand planes.
Contrary to what the above may suggest, Kagen does spend time not working with wood. He thoroughly enjoys watching his baby discover the subtleties of the world and is delighted to have been able to create that collaboration with his wife, Megan. They changed their last name together after marrying in 2013. “Sound” is a word used to describe a person as being "sound of character" and an object being "structurally sound", something that both Megan and Kagen identify with in the work they do.