Agency for Cultural Affairs, Goverment of Japan
Creator’s Voice Ninja × EUPHRATES

”Human signs” perceived from real-life ninja who lived in Iga and Koka 

To prepare for this project, EUPHRATES toured facilities related to ninja in the Chubu region, including the Ninja Museum of Igaryu and the Koka Ninja Village. After touring the sites, we asked them how their image of ninja changed and the way they intend to portray ninja.

—Please share what impressions you had from the onsite tour.

We saw many materials and facilities related to ninja on this trip. We found it very interesting that the environment gave rise to the ninja, including the narrative that the nature of the locality, which is distanced from cities, produced a vigilante corps, and the geography of being surrounded by mountains formed the base of typical ninja tactics that used traps and gadgets. We also had imagined that ninja were acrobatic, but felt that actual ninja led existences that were quiet. For instance, they normally lived as farmers and worked as ninja for espionage when necessary.

YAMAMOTO Kohji Robert (left) and SATO Masashi (right) of EUPHRATES visit a samurai residence in the ninja town of Iga.
A door hidden behind a hanging scroll (Koka Ninja Village).

—Please tell us about the artwork you are planning to create.

We’re using our knowledge of cognitive science that we’ve studied called “biological motion” to combine elements of concealment and hiding found in the ninjas’ lives and their fighting techniques. This allows us to formulate artwork that gives a sense of the “human signs” of “slipping into surroundings to hide and unexpectedly appearing” and “melting into surroundings without notice to become invisible.” Biological motion is an experimental approach born in the field of perceptual psychology that conveys the human form through the movement of multiple points. In this project, we’ll place multiple LED lights in a box covered by tinted glass with the aim of creating expression from which realistic human existence can suddenly be sensed through the movement of the LEDs.. As we thought about this exhibit, we came up with a human model communicated through multiple points that produces a presence and three-dimensionality different from video when observed directly with both eyes. This authenticity can only be experienced through the real thing.

An illustration of the exhibit piece by EUPHRATES.
A test video of human movement using biological motion.


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.
SATO Masashi
Born in 1980, SATO Takumi is an image director that joined EUPHRATES in 2005. His most recent projects include creating images for the NHK educational programs Texico (2020), Kangaeru Karasu (2013), and Otona no PythagoraSwitch. He has also directed the official toio™ title “Papercraft Creatures - Gesundroid” (SIE 2009) and worked on “Shadows as Athletes” (JOC 2019).
YAMAMOTO Kohji Robert
Born in 1979, YAMAMOTO Kohji Robert is an art director that joined EUPHRATES in 2005. His most recent projects include direction and design for the official toio™ title “Papercraft Creatures - Gesundroid” (SIE 2009), creating images for the science film series Mirai no Kagakusha-tachi e (NIMS 2013–), and designing the logo for the NHK educational program Texico (2020).