In 1981 Hiroshi Kichijo was successful with the invention of the bottle opener “SENTOL”, 10 years after the idea first struck him. In1993 he invented the construction toy block “LaQ” (The “Q” represents the Japanese word “kyuu” which means sphere) with the philosophy of creating a block that can connect from various directions (such as how a die has numbers on all 6 sides) and also be able to create a spherical shape and any other imaginable shape or design. At first, the idea was to create a construction part that can be connected to make any type of household item, or furniture. He did not aim to make a toy block at first, but there were numerous elements that influenced the president’s ideas until he came to perfect LaQ as an award winning toy block.
Hiroshi Kichijo grew up in a house that is 200 years old and took 15 years to build with the finest architectural technology of the period. Old Japanese wooden houses were built without nails, but by firmly connecting wooden pillars and sliding wooden doors in a skillful manner that can only be described as architectural artwork of a master architect. Many architectural professionals agree that the skills used in old Japanese wooden architecture is perhaps the highest technical skills for wooden buildings, as can be seen in the old temples of Japan such as Hōryū-ji, the oldest wooden architecture in the world. The most inspirational hints to create a construction block with connections of multiple angles came from growing up in the environment of Nara where he could view these skills on a daily basis.
Another inspiration was the idea of recycling. In the olden days Japanese people did frequent recycling. For example, a kimono would be remade into a child’s clothing and taken apart to make “otedama” a juggling ball, and other toys. A toy block that can be assembled, then taken apart and reassembled to make an infinite number of shapes would become an important characteristic of LaQ.
A rolling pair of dice was also an influential inspiration. Would it be possible for a block to connect from various planes at various angles, similar to how each face on a die has a number? How would it be possible to make a block part that is flexible enough to create various shapes? Would it be possible to create a sphere from block parts?
The final question to his curiosity was answered when Hiroshi Kichijo was eating a bowl of udon noodles. The noodles are flat and wide, so they flex and curve as you are eating them.The idea struck, that if a block part was flat, it would be more flexible and easier to handle than “brick type” blocks. The invention of flat blocks, and a joint part with a 120 degree angle would allow blocks to be versatile enough to be connected into any shape, spherical or geometrical.The invention of the innovative block LaQ was possible because the inventor had a background of being familiar with traditional Japanese architecture and was also fond of Japanese noodles.
LaQ adds a new freedom of creative expression to construction toys by opening up infinite possibilities that the stacking “brick-type” blocks cannot, unless using numerous specialized parts. With LaQ, a child simply needs 7 types of block parts and creative imagination to build numerous fun models!
The square and triangle base parts connect with 5 types of joint parts to create flat, 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional models. Toy robots can be built with moving legs and arms, without motorized or special parts by connecting the 7 block types in the style of a chain or joint connection. Additional parts such as headband parts and wheels have been invented for extra variety, but the basic fundamentals of LaQ is a construction toy with only 7 block types.
LaQ encourages a child to use his imagination and creativity to the fullest by discovering ways to physically build what he sees in his creative mind.