I’m old enough to remember when Rubik’s Cube came out: it was in 1981 and suddenly everyone everywhere was talking about that amazing puzzle that put to test even the highest intelligence. Since that was long before the internet became a thing, it took years until the solution algorithms circulated. The high school student from Vietnam who solved it in 22.95 seconds becoming the first “speedcuber” in 1982 didn’t do it through watching how-to videos on YouTube!
Japan has its own history with Rubik’s Cube: while Ernő Rubik, the cube’s inventor, was waiting for the patent, a Japanese engineer filed for a patent of his own for a very similar puzzle, and the two are still considered independent reinventions. In the end, Rubik’s version was the one that took over Japan, as it did the rest of the world, but the Japanese hadn’t finished yet! In the 40 years that the cube has been around, Japan has produced some amazing variations, which, as has been the case with everything from its writing system to its toilets, are based on the original but have been adapted to local requirements. What follows are five such variations, all available from Japan Trend Shop, ready to be delivered at your door wherever you are!
This is the obvious variation – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun! Fifty-three different Pokemon color-coded depending on their type (white for normal, green for grass, yellow for electric, orange for dragon, blue for water, and red for fire) are at your fingertips, ready to be unmingled and grouped. (Yes, there is one tile missing and this has been left un-Pokemoned on purpose so it can feature the “Rubik’s” logo.) Fun for everyone and a must-have for Pokemon diehards!
The Charaction series takes localization of the cube to the next level: it discards the “cube” part but keeps the puzzle-solving gameplay and adjusts it to some of the more recognizable characters from Sanrio as well as from Japan’s manga and anime industry. Available characters are Hello Kitty, RX-78-2 Gundam, MS-06F Zaku II, Naruto, Gudetama, Monkey D. Luffy and Tony Tony Chopper from One Piece, Frieza and Son Goku from Dragon Ball, Kitaro, and Boneblack, an original just for the series. They are all designed as chibi, the big-head deformed style so popular among manga/anime fans.
The Star Wars franchise is particularly popular in Japan and the Star Wars 3D Rubik’s Cube R2-D2 is yet more evidence of this. Like with the Charaction version, you don’t get a tube but a very detailed figure of the world’s most famous robot, R2-D2, which, lest we forget, was modeled after the peasant Matashichi in Akira Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress, which premiered when George Lucas was just 14 years old! Needless to say, even if you are not a Rubik’s Cube champion, any Star Wars fan will love this version.
With the Akai Kitsune Instant Noodles Rubik’s Cube, we are getting into deep Japan territory! Only those who have done time in Japanese convenience stores know that among the countless variations of instant noodles, one of the all-time favorites are the udon-type noodles served with a slice of abura-age fried tofu called kitsune udon. If you are among them, you will love this version of the cube that comes in a replica of the instant noodles’ cup. Instead of colors, you have to match the tofu patterns. It doesn’t get any more Japanese than this!
The All-White Rubik’s Cube is proof that it can get more Japanese than the Akai Kitsune Instant Noodles Rubik’s Cube, because it includes the weirdness factor – you knew there had to be some weirdness, right? What you get here is a return to the original cube design (it is actually a variation of the original Rubik’s Cube, licensed and everything), but with all sides white and differentiating only by texture. In other words, you have gnarled, gritty, smooth, fluffy, pimply, and prickly sides made from different materials (leather, wallpaper, plastic, synthetic fur, silicone, and velcro, respectively). In other words, a great way to enjoy the puzzle without even looking!
So there you have it: five Rubik’s Cubes created in Japan to suit the Japanese people’s taste. All these and more are available at Japan Trend Shop.