Forget sudoku – Japan has produced hundreds of other fiendish logic problems that are unknown in the UK. Alex Bellos explains how to tackle Shakashaka, Marupeke and Skyscrapers

The pencil-and-paper logic puzzle is arguably Japan’s most successful cultural export of recent years. Look inside almost any daily newspaper and you will find at least one number puzzle with a Japanese name; sudoku most commonly, but there are many others, such as kakuro and futoshiki, to mention only the ones that appear regularly in the Guardian. Shelves stuffed full of these exotic-sounding, square-gridded, numerical brain-teasers fill every newsagent and bookstore.

I visited Tokyo to try to understand why Japan dominates the puzzle world. I discovered a country with a unique puzzle culture. Japanese inventors have created hundreds of other brilliant types of logic puzzle, most unknown in the west, and the country sustains a cottage industry of several hundred puzzle “artisans” who design these puzzles by hand rather than by computer, as is usually done elsewhere.

Continue reading…

Facebook Comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.