The word "Karakuri" means a "mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise". It implies hidden magic, or an element of mystery.
Four main types of Karakuri exist: Butai Karakuri were used in theatre. Karakuri dolls were small and were played with in rooms. Dashi Karakuri were used in religious festivals. Karakuri Dansu were used to prevent treasures from being stolen from chests or drawers.
During the Edo-era, Japan was closed to the rest of the world. Despite its voluntary isolation, however, Japan adapted and transformed the Western automatons, which were fascinating to Descartes' world, giving him the incentive for his mechanist theories of organisms, as well as Frederick the Great, who loved playing with automatons and miniature wargames. This transmission of Western know-how happened through "Rangaku," or "Western Studies".