The theme of the exhibit at Chubu Centrair International Airport is “MOTION”. Two groups of artists have displayed works inspired by the movement of Japan’s ancient samurai and ninja warriors.
Centrair serves the Chubu region of Japan, at the heart of which is Aichi Prefecture. During Japan’s tumultuous “Warring States” period, between the late fifteenth and late sixteenth centuries, the area was home to some of the most famous samurai who ever lived—people like ODA Nobunaga, TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi, and TOKUGAWA Ieyasu. The region has many old castles and battlefields, including the site of the 1600 Battle of Sekigahara, considered one of the most decisive battles in Japanese history. The underground mercenaries of this tumultuous era were the ninja, who are often linked to the city of Iga in Mie Prefecture and the city of Koka in Shiga Prefecture. Both cities are near the Chubu area.
EUPHRATES, a creative group involved in the exhibit, creates innovative visual experiences based on their research of the methods underlying rules of expression, including shape and movement. Their installation focuses on the signs that ninja gave as they engaged in espionage activities.
SHIGETA Yusuke, another artist involved in the project, creates primitive animation pieces with rich storylines using pixel art. He recreates scenes in the style of traditional folding screens showing samurai engaged in battle. His work inspired by the dynamic motion of the samurai warriors, depicts the scene through animation.
Kehai no Hako (A Box of Signs)
Points of light float within a black box. Some of these lights move with a regularity that seems to evoke signs of life, as though a living figure could emerge from the darkness at any moment. However when the movement ceases, those signs, so tantalizingly lifelike moments before, quickly vanish. The architect of this piece, EUPHRATES, is a creative group of artists that gives birth to new visual experiences while studying the principles behind expression, such as the movement and shape of objects, and the cognition system of humans. As the artists traced the history of ninja as depicted in various pieces of fiction and came to know the ninja’s day-to-day life and actual activities, they discovered the essence of ninja -concealment and hiding. EUPHRATES created this piece from inspiration drawn from the signs of the ninja.
Technical direction and structure production: AKAGAWA Tomohiro (A-KAK)
Collaboration: NIIYAMA Ryuma (The University of Tokyo)
Technical assistant: KAWAKAMI Rei, OMINO Takahiro
Location: Chubu Centrair International Airport Terminal 1 Arrivals Lobby (February 26, 2021 -) * The installation is currently undergoing maintenance. Information regarding the installation's reopening will be posted on the official CULTURE GATE to JAPAN website.
Ninja were historically called shinobi and were active from the middle ages to the early modern period in Japan. Many elements of the ninja myth, such as their mysterious dress and wondrous abilities, were the creation of later generations and in actuality they routinely hid in the ordinary world, demonstrating their true worth outside of battles by making use of disguises, conversational skills, and survival techniques. Shinobi reported primarily to their lord, but were also hired at the same time by powerful figures in other areas for intelligence gathering missions. For a long time, two of the most important ninja groups were the Iga group in Mie Prefecture (adjacent to Aichi Prefecture where Chubu Centrair International Airport is located) and the Koka group in neighboring Shiga Prefecture. These groups laid the foundations for what would become the classic ninja archetype. The Iga and Koka villages still show traces of the lives ninja led in the past, with many ninja residences still standing today.
EUPHRATES is a creative group that was founded in 2005 by graduates of the SATO Masahiko Laboratory at Keio University. Its activities are based in various kinds of research. Rooted in the idea that the forms of expression that come out of research work are intrinsically fascinating, the group is engaged in the development of new kinds of representation and media design through images, animation, written works, exhibitions, and more. Recent projects include creating images for the NHK educational programs PitagoraSwitch, 2355/0655, Kangaeru Karasu, and Texico, as well as Me de Miru Sansu, a visual learning program for elementary school children published by Kyoiku Shuppan. Notable awards include the New York ADC Gold Prize, and the Yellow Pencil Prize at the D&AD Awards.
Samurai SHIGETA Yusuke
Sekigahara-Sansui-zu-Byobu (Folding Screen of Painted Sekigahara Landscapes)
The video installation artwork is based on the folding screen “The Battle of Sekigahara” (from the Osaka Museum of History collection), which is thought to have been painted in the early 17th century. The theme of the artwork, the Battle of Sekigahara (1600 A.D.) is known as an important battle in Japanese history fought by powerful samurai warriors from throughout Japan that split into two forces. The artist of this piece, SHIGETA Yusuke is a videographer who produces stories from primitive movements through a perspective of the world using pixels. He utilized pixel animation to reconstruct the battle as depicted on the folding screen , adding details of the natural landscape that still exists at the ancient battlefield. He has applied unique digital techniques of 3D modeling and crowd simulation to the movement and form of the crush of the samurai.
Pixel Design: miyatoriOIL, TAGUCHI Rina, NISHIKAWA Kotone, TAKEDA Mei
Sound Design: MATSUI Kensuke
Location: Chubu Centrair International Airport Terminal 1 Arrivals Lobby (February 9, 2021 -)
Samurai, or bushi, are the traditional soldiers of Japan. Samurai have had a major impact on Japanese history, as exemplified by the samurai government that replaced the aristocrats in the middle ages (beginning in the late 12th century). In the turbulent age between the end of the 15th century and the end of the 16th century, samurai who held territory battled one another throughout Japan for influence. In particular, the three great feudal leaders, ODA Nobunaga, TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi, and TOKUGAWA Ieyasu—all born in Aichi, where Chubu Centrair International Airport is located—expanded their power and led the warring states to unification. In the year 1600, the samurai throughout Japan divided into two armies and fought a battle at Sekigahara (Gifu Prefecture). TOKUGAWA Ieyasu won this battle and ended the Warring States period, beginning the long period of samurai government centered in Edo (present-day Tokyo) that lasted for more than 200 years.
Born in 1981, SHIGETA Yusuke is a videographer who works on animation installations, driven by a keen interest in imaging principles. His activities highlight the ways people engage with images in the digital world. Most of his animation works in recent years have focused on pixelized representations, many of which have been presented at exhibitions and events. His major awards include Jury Selection in the Art Division at the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival for Pixel Forest and Jury Selection in the Art Division at the 12th Japan Media Arts Festival for Narrative Kinetics.