Gakken makes excellent kits, many of which come from the Maker Shed with English instructions. The Karakuri Somersault Doll kit‘s directions are Japanese-only however, so I put together this build video to show the key assembly steps.

In the Maker Shed:

Employing a centuries old secret artisan technique collected from real Edo-period figures, the kit includes everything you need to create your own acrobatic doll (even the screwdriver!), plus a festive traditional kimono and a stylish tiered pedestal on which to stage performances. Moreover, with you pulling the strings, you can adjust the mechanism to control the velocity of the doll’s action. There are no English instructions included (book and kit are in Japanese but beautifully done) but the detailed illustrations are more than enough to easily put this kit together. MAKE is proud to be the exclusive distributor in North America for these brilliant kits from Gakken.


Karakuri Somersault Doll

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works at Disney Research and writes for Make and Boing Boing. He is training for American Ninja Warrior. You can find him at and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.