Sudoku maker Maki Kaji, who noticed the enjoyment of life in puzzles, dies | Leisure information
By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer
TOKYO (AP) – Maki Kaji, the creator of the popular Sudoku number puzzle, whose life’s work was to spread the joy of puzzles, has died, his Japanese company announced on Tuesday. He was 69 and had biliary cancer.
Kaji, known as the “Godfather of Sudoku”, created the puzzle in such a way that it would be easy for children and others who did not want to think too long. Its name is made up of the Japanese characters for “number” and “single”, and players place the numbers 1 to 9 in rows, columns and blocks without repeating them.
Ironically, Sudoku didn’t become a global hit until 2004 after a fan from New Zealand introduced it and published it in the British newspaper The Times. Two years later, Japan rediscovered its own puzzle as “Gyakuyunyu” or “Reimport”.
Kaji was the managing director of his puzzle company Nikoli Co. until July and died on August 10th in his home in Mitaka, a city in the metropolitan area of Tokyo.
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Maki traveled to more than 30 countries and spread his joy of puzzles. According to Nikoli from Tokyo, Sudoku championships have attracted around 200 million people in 100 countries over the years.
Except in Japan, Sudoku has never been trademarked, which drives his overseas craze, said Nikoli.
“Kaji-san came up with the name Sudoku and was loved by puzzle fans around the world. We are wholeheartedly grateful for the patronage that you have shown all of your life, ”the company said in a statement.
Sudoku was originally called “Suji-wa-Dokushin-ni-Kagiru”, which translates as “Numbers should be single, a bachelor”. In recent years, Sudoku, which is considered to be the most popular pencil puzzle in the world, has appeared in digital versions.
Maki was born on the main northern island of Hokkaido and founded Japan’s first puzzle magazine after dropping out of Keio University in Tokyo. In 1983 he founded Nikoli and around the same time he developed Sudoku.
Yoshinao Anpuku, who succeeded Kaji as Nikoli boss, said Kaji made friends easily and had “a unique and playful approach to life”.
“Our mission is to pursue Maki’s vision and opportunities,” said Anpuku.
Nikoli has provided original puzzles to more than 100 media companies, including 10 foreign ones.
The major Japanese newspaper Mainichi in its obituary credits Kaji for starting the puzzle sections in bookstores and for introducing the word “Sudoku” into the Oxford English Dictionary.
Kaji leaves behind his wife Naomi and two daughters. Funerals were held in close family circles. A separate memorial service will be arranged by Nikoli, but details were still open.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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