Yanoman was the first company to start making puzzles in Japan - in 1973. They have a wide range, and have explored many different forms of puzzle, such as the new spherical ones. For a few more historical details, see 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
2 Mini-poster (about A4/US letter size)
3 Postcard: instructions, and how to get a replacement for a missing piece. (Details on request)
4 "Service" coupon: collect enough of them, and you get a free puzzle. (More details on request)
5 "Jigsaw puzzle paste" (principal ingredient polyvinyl alcohol - PVA). Really speaking this is not paste, but a clear glue.
6 Mystery object
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. (Some people say it's best to do this on a sheet of glass, which the puzzle won't stick to.) Then pour the glue over the front of the puzzle: spread it out carefully with the mystery object, so all the joints get neatly filled with glue. It should dry with a nice glossy finish. It is a good idea to practice on a small puzzle before you try this on a really large one.
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 - if you find any discrepancies, please let us know. In particular, only some Yanoman puzzles include the "mini-poster": in others the picture is printed directly on the bottom of the box.
Yanoman website: http://www.yanoman.com
The Yanoman site has separate catalogs (also accessible with the tabs at the top of the Yanoman page) for different types of puzzle.
The small numbers in parenthesis show the approximate number of puzzles in each category. (These may be missing or out of date.)
Customised puzzle: Wedding puzzle
Character puzzles: Wachifield (45) - Hello Kitty (26) - Warabe Kimika (5) - "You look tasty" (2) (Children's puzzles) - Fantasy princesses by Shiitake (8) - Popular characters (4) (Haribo confectionery)
Pets: Lovely animals (32)
Maps: Maps (7)
Accessories: Puzzle glue and storage (2)
Astronomy: Heavenly bodies and starmaps
Miscellaneous: Puzzle lanterns (15) - Puzzle lanterns (10) - Art stand puzzles (12) - Money-box puzzles (14) (cylindrical puzzles) - Heart puzzles (1) - Tower puzzles (3) (Big Ben, Pisa, etc) - "Insight" series (3)
Hardcore: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (6) - Squid Girl (2) (The invader comes from the bottom of the sea!) - Strike Witches (3) - Little Busters! (9) - Dog Days (3) - Rewrite (3) - T P Sakura (2) - Princess Lover (2)
Disney Welcome boards: Personalised puzzle (2)
Disney frames: Joining "petit" frames (4)
(Updated August 2013)
Yanoman codes generally have two digits for the number of pieces, plus a puzzle code: 05- for 500 pieces, 10- for 1000 pieces, etc. Imaginatorium Shop codes simply omit the hyphen.