Otona no Kagaku Tea-Serving Doll Mini Automaton Kit

DIY premodern karakuri-ningyo robot

If you thought the Japanese love for robots is new, think again! Already in 1796, there was a book called Kikozui, written by inventor and mathematician Hosokawa Yorinao, which contained detailed sketches and guidelines on how to build automata (mechanical robots). Among them, one that has become particularly famous in Japan was the tea-serving doll: it was a boy who, when a cup of tea was placed in his hands, would go to visitors, offer them the cup, waited until they finished, and when they put the cup back in his hands, would return to his master. The Otona no Kagaku Tea-Serving Mini Automaton Doll Kit is a miniature of that doll!

The Otona no Kagaku Tea-Serving Doll Mini Automaton Kit comes as a special edition of the popular science magazine. It stands just 13 cm (5.1") tall but is fully functioning and even comes with two sets of clothes (made of paper): one is traditional Japanese (kimono, etc.) and the other is Western. Even better, it doesn't need batteries: the original design has been used, so it's powered by a mainspring like the original karakuri-ningyo (as those early robots were called back in the days of the samurai).

Specs and Features:

  • Height: 13 cm (5.1")
  • No batteries required (mainspring-powered)
  • 2 sets of paper clothes: kimono, Western
  • Comes with 24-page issue of Otona no Kagaku science magazine
  • Instructions/manual: Japanese
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US$ 42