Epoch is a general toy and hobby manufacturer, considerably larger than the other puzzle companies. They have a very wide range of puzzles, partly as a result of various acquisitions of other puzzle companies, most recently Apollo (from 2011). There are some more comments on their history on the manufacturers page.
In days gone by you opened a jigsaw puzzle box, and inside were just the pieces! But Japanese puzzles come with various extra bits and pieces. The assumption is that you will only do the puzzle once, then glue it together for wall mounting, to impress your friends.
1 Most important - the pieces
3 Instructions: how to do the puzzle, or order a catalog (¥1000) from Epoch
4 Missing piece card (details on request)
5 Warning about gluing the puzzle. Avoid spreading the glue in a single direction, because this may make the puzzle stretch slightly so that it won't fit in the standard frame. Check the size as you are applying the glue, using circular strokes, and being careful to avoid uneven distribution.
6 Service card; marked "Available only in Japan"
7 Foil sachet of puzzle glue
8 Sponge for spreading glue
Doing the puzzle
Ignore the strict instructions to do the edge pieces first: put the bits together in any order you like. If you want to display the puzzle, you can use the glue to stick it together. Spread a sheet of clean but unwanted paper under the completed puzzle, with the puzzle the right way up. Then pour the glue over the front of the puzzle: spread it out with the sponge, so all the joints get neatly filled with glue. It should dry with a nice glossy finish.
Disclaimer: I have very limited experience of gluing puzzles - I usually break them up to do again some day. But I have had some success with trompe l'oeil murals!
Please note: Actual box contents may vary slightly - if you find any major discrepancies, please let us know.
The Epoch catalog is large, and easy to navigate using the links below; the "Genre" links are index pages leading to the topics within them. Since Apollo became a part of the Epoch group in 2011, Apollo and Epoch brands have been progressively integrated, so there is now no practical difference.
The small numbers in parenthesis show the approximate number of puzzles in each category. (These are not updated in real time, and may be inaccurate.)
Puzzles by genre
Art: Christian Riese Lassen (128) - Kentaro Nishino (3) - Harai Kayomi (8) - Morita Haruyo (20) - Western classics (32) - Auspicious painting (11) - Fantasy art (36) - Peter Motz (3) - Horaguchi (17) - teppei (15) - Kirk Reinert (3) - Kusuda (7) (Fantasy illustrator) - Shikimi - World of the Tapir (3) - Fish illustrations by Tomonaga Taro (1) - Wolf art (1) - Eizin Suzuki (4) - Toi-nana (2) - Western country paintings (9) - M C Escher (4) - Fairyland art (6)
Characters: Disney (44) - Detective Conan (35) - Peanuts (42) - Minions (11) - Jurassic World (5) - "Sing" (1) - Pets (1) - "Boss Baby" (2) - Thomas the Tank Engine (1) - Miffy (2) - Classic children's animation (7) - Evangelion (2) - Black and white Alice (3) (video game) - World of strange cats (3) - Find the kabuki cat (2) - Kabuki cats (2) - Cat town "Nago" (3) - DreamWorks Trolls (2)
Scenic: Views of Japan (56) - Temples (8) - Waterfalls (1) - Gardens (1) - Castles (10) - Mt. Fuji (11) - Tokyo tower (4) - Railway journey (4) - Urban nightscape (4) - Illuminations (11) - Wonders of the World (26) - World heritage (21) - World views (15) - Colourful street views (6) - Beautiful gardens of the world (4) - Tropical resort (2) - Maps (1)
Puzzles by piece count
70 pieces (14) - 100 large pieces (1) - 108 pieces (77) - 216 small pieces (17) - 300 pieces (142) - 420 small pieces (6) - 450 small pieces (27) ( small pieces) - 500 pieces (109) - 759 small pieces (1) - 1000 pieces (166) - 1000 very small pieces (6) - 1053 super small pieces (26) - 1500 small pieces (6) - 1518 small pieces (6) - 2000 super small pieces (39) - 2016 very small pieces (37) - 3000 small pieces (20)
Icons used on the Epoch site
Puzzle piece icons show the number of pieces, and just a few examples are shown here. There are also many variants on the tatsujin ("Expert") logo, which all refer to the (quite complicated!) system of grading that Epoch has developed.
|3000 small pieces||Glow-in-the-dark|
|2000 tiny pieces||Metallic|
|1000 pieces||High quality printing|
|300 pieces||High-gloss finish|
|Expert (tatsujin)||Crystal (translucent plastic puzzle)|
(Updated September 2018)
Epoch product codes are five digits: 11-322, 48-7973, 23-081 and so on. The first two digits usually indicate the price and number of pieces, but not in an obvious way. Some puzzles still have a red "Apollo" logo, rather than the green "Epoch".