We’re very happy to nominate Gakken for this year’s Documentation Makey. Gakken is a huge publishing company that’s been around for over sixty years producing educational materials and kits like the Denshi blocks they brought to market in the 70s.
We’ve been carrying their Otona no Kagaku (Adult Science) mook and kit combos in the Maker Shed for a while now; they’re beautiful products that are a pleasure to build. At the Bay Area Maker Faire I put together one of Theo Jansen’s Animaris Ordis Parvus kits; even though it was a fairly complicated build (and I don’t read Japanese), I found it easy to follow the excellent instructions.
The Three Steps Over Japan blog has a comprehensive list and reviews of the kits. If you’re looking to get started, try one of the cameras (the Gakken-Flex or the Stereo Pinhole), working engines (the Stirling Engine), or the microcontollers/computers (the Japanino or the 4-Bit Microcomputer).