Jigsaw puzzles from Japan

Chinese calendar animals

On this page: 2012: Year of the Dragon - 2023: Year of the Rabbit - 2022: Year of the Tiger - 2021: Year of the Ox - 2020: Year of the Rat - 2019: Year of the Boar - 2018: Year of the Dog - 2017: Year of the Cockerel - 2016: Year of the Monkey - 2015: Year of the Ram (Sorry! No puzzles available) - 2014: Year of the Horse - 2013: Year of the Snake - Chinese zodiac collections - What is this "Lucky"?

2024 is the Year of the Dragon

Dragons of five colours
© Harai Kayomi / Studio Oz

3000: Dragons of five colours (Kayomi)

This challenging puzzle includes no less than five of Kayomi's fluffy but fierce dragons. Five is the number of ancient Chinese elements, which are associated with the cardinal directions (including "centre"), and also with colours. So the central yellow dragon symbolises imperial authority, and manifests rank by having five claws and holding the magic ball. Around the four corners are the four protectorate dragons: Black to the north, Blue to the east, Red to the south, and White to the west. (These also match with the colours of the four protectorate gods.)

No biographical details available. She signs her given name Kayomi in Roman letters.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

Not available
Discontinued March 2024
An Epoch puzzle: 3000 pieces; 1020 x 730 mm (40" x 29")
Code: E21105 (21-105 on package)
Retail price ¥4800
Cherry dragon
© Epoch

2016: Cherry dragon (Kayomi)

Even a dragon can look kind-hearted when portrayed by Kayomi, yet this one displays its scaly jaws and claws, with the magical cintamani jewel in its grasp. Cherry blossom, Mount Fuji, and the full moon complete the picture.

No biographical details available. She signs her given name Kayomi in Roman letters.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

* This puzzle has TINY pieces!

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 2016 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E22601 (22-601 on package)
Retail price ¥3364 (approx. US$23.04 €21.29 £18.28)

All about ordering (please read first)

Gold and silver dragons
© Epoch

1500: Gold and silver dragons (Seikaku)

A jolly view of dragons in the sky – they fly without need of wings... and all the usual auspicious symbols, the fans, the red coral, the gold, plum-bamboo-pine, and Mount Fuji majestic in the background.

No biographical details, but the artist Mori Seikaku specialises in animal and flower scroll paintings. He signs his work the traditional way, with the characters for his given (brush) name, Seikaku (lit. 'nest of the crane') and a seal of the same.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

Not available
Discontinued March 2024
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15701 (15-701 on package)
Retail price ¥3364
Kannon rides the Dragon
© Hojo Yuka / Sankoh

1000: Kannon rides the Dragon

A very matronly Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, stands barefoot amidships on a rather nice dragon. In her left hand she holds a flower (perhaps a lotus flower), while the dragon similarly clutches the symbolic Chintamani Stone (or "treasure ball").

This is a standard pose for Kannon, and this version is subdued in tone yet full of details. The image also includes a complete sutra for the elimination of disasters — this is essentially in Sanskrit transliterated into ancient Chinese, so a typical Japanese reader can make no more meaning of it than you can. Although Kannon is often known as "Goddess of Mercy", experts in Buddhism tell us she is really Avalokitêsvara, who was a man...

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 500 x 750 mm (20" x 30")
Code: A10676 (1000-676 on package)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$20.55 €18.99 £16.30)

All about ordering (please read first)

Golden dragon
© eshi-masa

1000: Golden dragon (eshi-masa)

Although a couple of auspicious symbols are included at the bottom, Mount Fuji and a flight of cranes, this dragon looks tortuously angry and writhing. It will make a tough puzzle!

Self-described as a "dragon painter", this artist uses a brush name, styled as eshi-masa, an imaginative combination of characters meaning something like "picture-lion-master". After working as a product designer for Toyota, he set up his own company in 1999, and has since been producing artwork in a range of genres.

In stock
A Beverly puzzle: 1000 pieces; 490 x 720 mm (19" x 28")
Code: B61462 (61-462 on package)
Retail price ¥3300 (approx. US$22.60 €20.89 £17.93)

All about ordering (please read first)

Blue Dragon
© Takaki

600: Blue Dragon (Takaki)

A fantastic dragon indeed, but this one shows rather clearly the shape of the Chinese dragon's body. It is not like a giant lizard, but rather a snake with legs that can fly. And of course it holds the magic Cintamani ball in one claw...

Born in Hokkaido in 1974, as a child the artist Takaki was fascinated by birds, so wings feature in many of her images. She became a protégée of Kagaya, and has produced many fantastic images.

In stock
A Beverly puzzle: 600 pieces; 530 x 380 mm (21" x 15")
Code: B600Z007 (600-007 on package)
Retail price ¥2600 (approx. US$17.81 €16.46 £14.13)

All about ordering (please read first)

2023 was the Year of the Rabbit

Year of the rabbit
© Epoch

1500: Year of the Rabbit (Seikaku)

A complete rabbit family of seven welcomes the year of their sign by bringing a huge hoard of treasure, along with the usual auspicious symbols, from Mount Fuji to the Golden Mallet.

No biographical details, but the artist Mori Seikaku specialises in animal and flower scroll paintings. He signs his work the traditional way, with the characters for his given (brush) name, Seikaku (lit. 'nest of the crane') and a seal of the same.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15600 (15-600 on package)
Retail price ¥3200 (approx. US$21.92 €20.25 £17.39)

All about ordering (please read first)

Good luck rabbit family
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Good luck rabbit family (Kazumi)

Perhaps a family, seven rabbits play among the buttercups and clover in a field. Then a distant Mount Fuji and the traditional pine-bamboo-plum combination lend an auspicious air to the picture.

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10879 (1000-879 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2022 was the Year of the Tiger

Year of the tiger
© Mori Seikaku

1500: Year of the Tiger (Seikaku)

A tiger family, the father fierce-looking, the mother serene, the three cubs frolicking, is surrounded by the usual symbols of good fortune, from the red Mount Fuji in the background to the treasure in the foreground: gold coins, red coral, the mallet of good fortune, and so on. Other omens include the trio of pine, bamboo, and plum blossom, and a pair of faithful cranes.

No biographical details, but the artist Mori Seikaku specialises in animal and flower scroll paintings. He signs his work the traditional way, with the characters for his given (brush) name, Seikaku (lit. 'nest of the crane') and a seal of the same.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15086 (15-086 on package)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$20.55 €18.99 £16.30)

All about ordering (please read first)

Good luck tiger family
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Good luck tiger family (Kazumi)

A tiger family, mother and three cubs, surrounded by the usual auspicious trio of pine, bamboo, and plum, the red sun in the sky...

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10866 (1000-866 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2021 was the Year of the Ox

Year of the Ox
© Epoch

1500: Year of the Ox (Seikaku)

An ox family surrounded by auspicious symbols, from the red Mount Fuji in the distance, to the lucky mallet and turtle in the foreground. The parents admire their white calf, and the bull pulls a cart laden with the usual treasure items.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15085 (15-085 on package)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$20.55 €18.99 £16.30)

All about ordering (please read first)

Year of the Ox
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Year of the Ox (Kazumi)

A splendidly dressed ox rests peacefully by the elegant light carriage it must be responsible for, and a pile of gold coins, paintings, red coral, and other treasure.

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10855 (1000-855 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2020 was the Year of the Rat

Year of the Rat
© Epoch

1500: Year of the Rat (Seikaku)

Piles of treasure are surrounded by all the classic symbols of good fortune: shō-chiku-bai (the pine, bamboo, and plum combination), cranes, irises, and of course Mount Fuji, all to celebrate the Year of the Rat.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15084 (15-084 on package)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$20.55 €18.99 £16.30)

All about ordering (please read first)

Year of the rat
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Year of the rat (Kazumi)

The Year of the Rat brings, well, rats, but these rats also bring a huge cart laden with treasure, with lots of other auspicious symbols, from red coral to Mount Fuji...

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10841 (1000-841 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2019 was the Year of the Boar

Year of the boar
© Mori Seikaku

1500: Year of the Boar (Seikaku)

A family of wild boars looks happy with the pile of treasure it has accumulated. The scene is auspicious, with a bright red Mount Fuji in the background, and the usual surrounding tokens of good fortune.

In the original Chinese zodiac, this position in the cycle is represented by the pig, but traditionally in Japan the wild boar (inoshishi) is chosen.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15083 (15-083 on package)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$20.55 €18.99 £16.30)

All about ordering (please read first)

Fortune-bearing boar cubs
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Fortune-bearing boar cubs (Kazumi)

The boar (inoshishi) is one of the animals in the Japanese version of the zodiac (in the original Chinese vesion this is a pig). Here a whole family of them have assembled an enormous pile of treasure in a delightful rural setting, symbolising the good fortune to be anticipated.

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10828 (1000-828 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2018 was the Year of the Dog

Playful puppies
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Playful puppies (Kazumi)

Puppies play in a charming rural setting. A naturalistic blue Mount Fuji looms in the distance. The scene is completed by a large pot full of treasure.

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10812 (1000-812 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2017 was the Year of the Cockerel

Golden cockerel
© Izumi Kazumi

1000: Golden cockerel (Kazumi)

The cockerel is said to be auspicious in regard to money matters, and this splendid creature is called "golden" not for the colour of his plumage, but for the golden eggs guarded by his mate. The surroundings are filled with more of the customary symbols of good fortune: pine, bamboo, plum, cherry, and more.

Izumi Kazumi is an animal artist who graduated from Osaka University fine arts department in 1984. Izumi is her family name.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: A10792 (1000-792 on package)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$24.66 €22.78 £19.57)

All about ordering (please read first)

2016 was the Year of the Monkey

Year of the Monkey
© Mori Seikaku

1500: Year of the Monkey (Seikaku)

A monkey family: Mama, Papa, and three offspring who illustrate the old adage of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". They are surrounded by piles of treasure, coins, nuggets, and bars of gold, while rest of the picture is filled with the usual auspicious symbols, from Mount Fuji to the turtle in the foreground.

No biographical details, but the artist Mori Seikaku specialises in animal and flower scroll paintings. He signs his work the traditional way, with the characters for his given (brush) name, Seikaku (lit. 'nest of the crane') and a seal of the same.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1500 pieces; 750 x 500 mm (30" x 20")
Code: E15078 (15-078 on package)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$20.55 €18.99 £16.30)

All about ordering (please read first)

2014 was the Year of the Horse

No puzzles currently available

Chinese zodiac collections

Twelve zodiac animals
© Epoch

500: Twelve zodiac animals

A collection of delightful images faithfully representing the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, or year cycle. In the centre, Mount Fuji has a rising sun emblazoned 招福 (shō-fuku), referring to the bringing of good luck.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 500 pieces; 530 x 380 mm (21" x 15")
Code: E06110 (06-110 on package)
Retail price ¥2000 (approx. US$13.70 €12.66 £10.87)

All about ordering (please read first)

Beasts of the zodiac
© Epoch

500: Beasts of the zodiac (Taki)

All twelve animals from the Chinese zodiac, each labelled with the kanji for the sign. (These are different from the ordinary kanji for the animal.)

Taki is the brushname of a young freelance illustrator specialising in plants and animals, with a self-described style of "Japanese modern".

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 500 pieces; 530 x 380 mm (21" x 15")
Code: E79115 (79-115 on package)
Retail price ¥2600 (approx. US$17.81 €16.46 £14.13)

All about ordering (please read first)

What is this "Lucky"?

There is a great tradition in Japan of paintings combining elements considered to bring good fortune. Some of these themes are obvious enough, such as Mt. Fuji, or the characters of the twelve-year Chinese calendar cycle, but others rely on wordplay in Japanese. For example, nanten, the plant sometimes known as "Heavenly bamboo", sounds the same as Chinese characters nan meaning "troubles", and ten meaning "to (over)turn", so it has gained an association with overcoming difficulties. This is rather as if in English-speaking countries we painted four people playing the flute, and said it meant "four-tune".

The philosophical underpinnings of all this are rather diffuse. There does not seem to be any direct connection to Buddhism, but ancient Chinese mythology, and miscellaneous folk beliefs have all been brought into play. Mark Schumacher's "Buddhist Corner" pages are a wonderful source of information.

All of the puzzles on this page relate to the successive years of the Chinese calendar animal cycle. For more pictures in this auspicious genre, try the following other pages...

The Imaginatorium's resident Blinkered Empiricist has issued a disclaimer: These are attractive puzzles, but we make no claim that they will have any supernatural effect whatsoever!

Deleted puzzles

For reference: you can view all the puzzles from this page that have gone out of print in the Attic.