How to Solve Hanayama Puzzles

By Michelle L. Cramer
The Hanayama Cast-Iron Chain Puzzle

Hanayama, a toy company in business for over 70 years, gains most of its reputation from its cast-iron puzzles. The purpose of these puzzles is to get the solver to think critically and attempt problem-solving strategies. Hanayama divides its cast-iron puzzles into six levels of difficulty. Puzzle-solvers consider the chain puzzle one of the easier levels, but many still find it a challenge. The steps below will help you solve it.

Examine the three chains. Note that the flat ends of each chain have holes in them numbering 1, 2 and 3. For the purpose of these instructions, the chain with one hole will be "chain 1," the chain with 2 holes will be "chain 2" and the chain with 3 holes will be "chain 3."

Position the 3 chains so chain 1 is in your right hand, chain 3 is in your left hand and chain 2 dangles from the middle.

Move chain 3 to the middle position. Start this process by bringing chain 1 and chain 3 together where their flat ends touch. Rotate chain 1 clockwise and chain 3 counterclockwise by 90 degrees so the flat ends alternate and form a sort of four-part square. chain 2 still should be dangling from the bottom.

Pass the flat ends of chain 1 and chain 3 through each other (you will have to jiggle it a bit to get chain 3 to move) so that all 3 chains appear wrapped up together. Drop chain 3 and let it dangle, while holding chain 1 in your right hand and chain 2 in your left hand.

Reverse step 4, but with chain 1 and chain 2 -- bring the flat ends of chain 2 into a 4 part square with chain 1 (you will have to jiggle it a bit, as well). Pass chain 1 and chain 2 through each other in this fashion. Shake out the chains. Chain 3 should now be in the middle.

Align the groves on the inside of chain 1 with the groove in the end of chain 3 (the end without the holes) to form a sort of connection and hold that in place. Then twist chain 2 into the open space, press it against chain 3 and you should be able to remove chain 2 from the puzzle.

Separate chain 1 and chain 3.

About the Author

Michelle Cramer has been writing/editing freelance since 2007, including the Small Business Buzz Blog and articles for Work.com. Cramer's current writing projects include articles for informational websites and several blogs. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Missouri.