Review: “Japanese Garden” by Sunsout, 10/10


Publisher: Sunsout (USA), 2007, 1000 pieces

Title:  “Japanese Garden”, Artist: T.C. Chiu


This has long been the top-rated Sunsout puzzle on Amazon. I finally got around to putting it together and now I see why!

Box Quality:

The Sunsout boxes are not my favorite feature of the brand. They’re overly large, larger than pretty much any other brand, so they require more space between shelves. The box design looks amateur to me and does not compare to brands like Gibson or Ravensburger (or pretty much anyone, really). The back of the box is plain white. Fortunately, there are many other things to like about Sunsout!


Three of the sides show an image of the puzzle, puzzle name. artist, piece count, and Sunsout logo. So you can tell what the puzzle is when it’s shelved.


Inside the box:

Nothing comes inside the box except the bag of puzzle pieces. The image on the front of the box is sufficiently large enough to use for reference. There’s very little puzzle dust, and the pieces are fully separated and undamaged.

 The Image:

I love the puzzle’s image. First, it’s shaped. The fan shape is quite nice, sort of a round puzzle on top with the fan bottom. It’s always a nice change up for me to do something like this after I’ve been working on rectangular puzzles. I also like the Japanese garden theme. It’s a nice composition with several figures, flowers, birds, trees, a Japanese house, two bridges, etc. The puzzle is also LARGE. The widest part is 3′ across! So it feels like a worthwhile project.


Puzzle Quality:

Other than the boxes, I quite like Sunsout.  You can see our full brand comparison here.

Sunsout and Bits and Pieces are both very similar to Springbok. The cut is much more creative than a standard grid cut, with pieces of all kinds of shapes and sizes. This makes it a bit more challenging and interesting to assemble. The pieces are thick, fairly large overall, and have a heavy, glossy feel.


The fit is very tight on this brand. As you can see below, you can easily move groups of pieces without them falling apart. And at the end, I was able to completely flip this puzzle over to the back using just my hands, and not a single piece became dislodged. (I usually have to use a board to flip puzzles.)




This puzzle is a bit more challenging than your average Ravensburger. The piece shapes and the overall puzzle shape make it a little more difficult. But there’s plenty of unique color and detail in this image. I’d still place it in the ‘medium’ difficulty range.

I don’t usually assemble the border first in a shaped puzzle, but in this case the border pieces were easy to see because there is a gold edge around the top round part of the puzzle, and the bottom of the fan is obvious too. The fan part with the birds and butterflies came next, then the clear features of the image like the house and figures and birds and bridges. As usual, the greens came last.




I don’t hand out 10 scores readily, but this puzzle is really rather special with it’s interesting shape, lovely image, fun unusual cut, and thick pieces. The puzzle is still in print from 2007 and it seems to be a perennial bestseller. Recommended!



 Where to find:

In the US, you can find it at Puzzle Warehouse

Outside the UK, you can find this puzzle on amazon UK for just £14.66.

If you like this puzzle, also check out Sunsout’s more recent fan-shaped puzzle with a Panda theme.

Panda Elegance


10 thoughts on “Review: “Japanese Garden” by Sunsout, 10/10

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  1. I just ordered it. Looking forward to working it. Sounds like exactly the progression I would expect to make based on the picture. I do like a grid puzzle so I’m interested to see if I find this too frustrating.

    1. Cool! Looking back over this review reminds me how much I loved this puzzle. I hope you like it. Let us know how the gird-to-random change works for you.

    2. I finished this last week. Sadly, either I lost a piece or it was missing one. I’m betting on the former. I’m hoping it turns up soon. I loved the picture but random cut is not my favorite. Having said that, I did order another Sunsout (Treasure Hunt Bookshelf) that I am working now.

      I did REALLY like the shaped puzzle. I’ll be doing more of those. I ended up working the bottom first, then the sky and red Maple. The Lotus were the last part I did.

      I’m thinking I’d like to work “Room with a View” by Ravensburger next but it is too big for my puzzle board – maybe I’ll finally try a piece of foam core with material tacked to it. Or maybe Melodious Garden. I think I can get Room to last 3 or more weeks given my current schedule.

    3. Oh,man, that’s a bummer! Maybe you can contact Sunsout and get a replacement piece. I’ve never tried from them, but most manufacturers are pretty good about it.

  2. Thanks for your excellent site, Jane! I recently rediscovered jigsaw puzzles and was disappointed when a brand I bought from a book store had only “standard” two knob/two hole shaped pieces. It made it far too easy to get a piece in the wrong spot. I liked your review of this Sunsout puzzle and finished it last night. It was challenging, but very fun and rewarding. The copy I got only had a small section of border outline near the house (where I see your copy has no border). This definitely added to the difficulty, but it was still a great puzzle. Now that I’ve gotten the bug I have a stack of 10 more puzzles just waiting to be opened 🙂

    1. Great! Glad to hear you liked this puzzle. I still remember it very fondly. There are other fan-shaped Sunsouts I need to try. Welcome to the addiction! Jane

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