Agency for Cultural Affairs, Goverment of Japan
Creator’s Voice Samurai × SHIGETA Yusuke

Sensing the presence of samurai at Sekigahara and remembering a poem by Basho

To carry out this project, SHIGETA Yusuke visited the Sekigahara battlefield where Japan’s samurai split into two forces and fought each other in 1600. Shigeta is reconstructing a folding screen that depicts the Battle of Sekigahara through animation. After he toured the site, we asked him about what he felt at the battlefield and his ideas for the artwork.

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

During the visit I went to the historic Sekigahara battlefield, and as I looked at the landscape from both camps, I gained a sense of the distance to the enemy encampment and the tense mood of the warriors at that time. I visited on November 6, and was captivated by the beauty of the natural environment, including the golden-colored Japanese pampas grass and the mountains’ autumn foliage. Maybe because of that I was reminded of the famous poem, “Summer Grasses” by MATSUO Basho that is said to have been written in Tohoku where MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune committed suicide.

SHIGETA Yusuke visits the Sekigahara battlefield.

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

The subject of the artwork is “The Battle of Sekigahara Folding Screen.” I’ll explore an interpretation of this folding screen and recreate it using animation. This folding screen casts Tokugawa Ieyasu as the main character and no other individual figures can be distinguished, but in my artwork I plan to eliminate the individual and depict an ensemble story without a lead character. I’ll also draw details from nature such as the mountain range and foliage to add a Matsuo Basho-like perspective and recast it from a depiction of battle to a landscape illustration.

The subject of the artwork, “The Battle of Sekigahara Folding Screen” (from the Osaka Museum of History collection).

I’m focusing on the depiction of the crowd of fighters. It will be pixel art, but I’ll create them using 3D computer graphics so that details will remain when looked at close up. I’ll take variations such as how they’re dressed and their weapons from the original painting and mix them to make over 500 combinations, and quantitatively control them using crowd simulation. In the past, I’ve created pixel artwork that generates a vast perspective of the world, but this will be the largest I’ve ever created, so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of experience the image elicits.

Crowd simulation


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.