Who is Maki Kaji's wife? 'Sudoku Godfather', dead at 69, fell in love at 23 after health scare

Reportedly, Maki Kaji was suffering from bile duct cancer before his death and is survived by his wife Naomi and his two daughters

                            Who is Maki Kaji's wife? 'Sudoku Godfather', dead at 69, fell in love at 23 after health scare
Maki Kaji passed away on August 10 (Twitter)

The creator of the world's most popular pencil puzzle 'Sudoku', Maki Kaji passed away on August 10. He was 69 years old. The news of his demise was announced by his company on Tuesday, August 17.

Reportedly, Kaji was suffering from bile duct cancer. A statement released by his company, Nikoli Co said, "Maki Kaji, who spread the love of puzzles in the world as "Godfather of Sudoku," passed away at 10:54 PM on August 10, 2021, at home in Tokyo. The cause of death was bile duct cancer. He was 69 years old." Kaji remained the chief executive at Nikoli Co until July.


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Born in Sapporo, Hokkaido in 1951, Maki Kaji established Japan’s first puzzle magazine, Puzzle Tsushin Nikoli in 1980. His world-renowned creation, 'Sudoku' followed three years later in 1983. However, it took almost two decades for 'Sudoku' to become a global sensation. Talking about being tagged as the 'father of Sudoku', Kaji once said in an interview, "I don’t want to just be the godfather of Sudoku. I’d like to spread the fun of puzzles until I’m known as the person who established the puzzle genre in Japan." Kaji also noted that he created Sudoku to be easy for kids and anyone else who 'didn’t want to think too hard'. The puzzle’s name comes from the Japanese characters for 'number' and 'single'.

According to Maki Kaji's company, Nikoli Co, Sudoku championships drew some 200 million people in 100 countries over the years. The company said in a statement, "Kaji-san came up with the name Sudoku and was loved by puzzle fans from all over the world. We are grateful from the bottom of our hearts for the patronage you have shown throughout his life."

Sudoku was originally called 'Suji-wa-Dokushin-ni-Kagiru', which means 'Numbers should be single, a bachelor'. Sudoku recently debuted in digital versions to keep up with the times. Nikoli's current chief executive, Yoshinao Anpuku, said his old boss made friends easily and had a "unique and playful approach toward life". "Our mission is to pursue Maki’s vision and possibilities,” Anpuku said.

Who is Maki Kaji's wife?

Maki Kaji is survived by his wife Naomi and two daughters. A funeral service for the puzzle maker was held for close family members. A separate memorial service is being arranged by Nikoli Co, but details are still being decided, according to a report in euronews.

According to an interview he gave to a Malaysian news outlet in 2011, he was only friends with his wife Naomi in the beginning. So what changed? Once, when they were hanging out together, he fainted because of a severe stomach ache. When he woke up in a hospital, the puzzle-maker who was 23 years old at the time, realized how concerned Naomi had been through the entire ordeal. This gave him the confidence to pursue her. They married two years later and went on to have two daughters. His elder child works in a bookstore while his younger daughter is a jewellery and apparel designer. The interview also revealed that the three women in Kaji’s life do not do Sudoku.

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