Have you ever heard about alphametics that read like poems? Tamiya´s creations do it, making them so interesting curious and unique because they resemble the very first cryptarithms invented in ancient China, which are said to be composed using Chinese ideograms.

Tamiya Katsuya is well known in Japan as a composer of various problems, some original genre amongst them. He is the inventor of the game "Kyoutoginkaku shogi" which he first published and awarded as prizes through the magazine "Shogi Puzzle" that he produced from the mid-70s into the 80s.

The three alphametics given below were used by Tamiya on new year´s cards. He hosts an international culture exchange new year card circle.


The multiplication problem is a poem to welcome the new year and its ideographic form reads this way:

From atop Misen the mountains are cloaked in mist.
Isn't it pleasant to be in the mountains,
Looking through the haze spring feels good,
Looking through the haze spring feels good.
After so much longing finally it's spring, how wonderful.

This is how to read the Japanese:

Misen no itadaki
Yama yama kasumi
Tozan kokoroyoki kana
Kasumi wo nozomite haru kokoroyoshi
Kasumi wo nozomite haru kokoroyoshi
haru wo nozomite haru kitari kokoroyoki kana


The division problem is an epitaph (dirge) written on the death of a friend. The characters for this one are taken from "Kyo Kanoko Musume Doujyouji", and it says:

As it is
Universal truth / Arising and passing, I die
I live and die
Living empties me.
Life brings nothing to me.

The romanised reading of the poem is as follows:

shinnyo shoumetsu metsui


This is Tamiya´s longest alphametic for the new year 2001:

Happy celebrations invite full celebrations
If you have a happy nature your happiness will increase
Happy celebrations invite full celebrations
When you're happy your happiness itself makes you happy
Virtue strengthens itself and leads to happiness
Happy celebrations invite full celebrations
Full of joy! Full of happiness! When full you overflow with joy and happiness.

Readings for the Japanese are optional to some degree. Here is one version:

Fukuju wa manju o maneku
Fukutoku wa fuku o masu
Fukuju wa manju o maneku
Tsutsushinde ki o takame Fuku o yorokobu
Toku o takame fukki o toku tosu
Fukuju wa manju o maneku
Yorokobi michite fuku michite michite mata fukuju mitsu

The solutions to all three puzzles can be seen at the bottom of this page.

The publication of these problems was authorized by the author, Tamiya Katsuya.

We are indebted to Mr. Michael Sandeman for making us acquainted with Tamiya´s works and handing us all these data and graphics.

© Copyright 1994, 1998, 2001 by Tamiya Katsuya.


                 Multiplication (1994):
                          3 5 8
                          5 5 7
                        2 5 0 6
                      1 7 9 0
                    1 7 9 0
                    1 9 9 4 0 6    The Japanese year was Heisei 6, so the 
                                   solution contains the new year (1994) 
                                   by both systems.
                   Division (1998):

7 4 ---------- 2 7 / 1 9 9 8 1 8 9 --------- 1 0 8 1 0 8 ------- 0 In Japanese "74" can be read "nashi" which means nothing, so like life itself this alphametic goes from nothing to nothing ("74" at the top "0" at the bottom) quite suitable for the subject matter of the poem. "1998" is of course the year beginning that this alphametic celebrated, it was published on new year cards in Tamiya's international culture exchange group. "189" can be read "iwaku" in Japanese. Tamiya derives from this "iwakuinnen" which for this occasion he interprets "nande sou nattaka" which means "why did such a thing have to happen?", literally "how did this come about?". "108" is the number of types of lust that humans are subject to. To remind people not to become obsessed with these transient "lusts" the bells are chimed 108 times at the new year. Because of this "108" has become synonimous with "yokubou" roughly translateable as "lust".

Multiplication (2001): 1 3 6 0 3 1 4 7 1 ------------ 1 3 6 0 3 9 5 2 2 1 5 4 4 1 2 1 3 6 0 3 ----------------- 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 The Japanese year is Heisei 13, so the solution contains the new year (2001) by both systems.

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