Ichihara Etsuko


  • Ichihara Etsuko “Digital Shaman Project

  • Ichihara Etsuko “Digital Shaman Project - Prototype of modern Kannon” 2021 / “Ritual Prayer Robot Jomon ver.” 2020

  • Ichihara Etsuko “Digital Shaman Project - Prototype of modern Kannon” 2021

  • Ichihara Etsuko “Digital Shaman Project - Prototype of modern Kannon” 2021

  • Ichihara Etsuko “Namahage in Tokyo” 2017

  • Ichihara Etsuko “Namahage in Tokyo” 2017

EXHIBITION [Nagoya Castle Area]

Digital Shaman Project - Prototype of modern Kannon, 2021
Namahage in Tokyo, 2017
Ritual Prayer Robot Jomon ver., 2020

Ito Historic Residence


Artist Statement

The instant I saw the Ito Historic Residence, I had a sense of it being fated, and there arose in me a desire to create a different kind of space, one like a haunted house. I had already created works based on the “Digital Shamanism” theme addressing Japanese beliefs and technology. For this exhibition, I compiled a work fusing technology with the motif of invisible beings, such as ghosts, goblins, visiting spirits, and even more, of awaiting an invisible presence—a modern embodiment of the Kannon goddess of mercy herself—in the form of a robot. In the previous streaming heritage, a question came up: “During an epidemic, what is the power of human imagination and prayer?” I hope this will be a space to experience that, if even only partially.

Digital Shaman Project – Prototype of Modern Kannon, 2021

This work proposes a new form of mourning, one that is designed for the modern age and the tremendous strides in science and technology made in it. We have “Pepper,” a domestic robot with a 3D-printed face of the deceased and programmed with the deceased’s personality, habitual phrases, and gestures. These features appear in Pepper only for the traditional 49 days after death, and they disappear automatically after the 49 days. For this exhibition, I transformed the 3D data of the creator's face to make a prototype “Modern Kannon.” The artwork is about seeking a way to pray in this age of plague.

Planning, Direction, 3D modeling, Face, Voice: Ichihara Etsuko
Motion Development: Watanabe Chika

Namahage in Tokyo, 2017

This work is an attempt to reinterpret the functions of the “Namahage Ritual,” an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property that has been preserved in Oga City, Akita Prefecture for over 200 years, and then implement the practices in the modern city.
I researched the original Namahage ritual, discovered the rationality concealed in apparently irrational old customs, such as maintaining the community through resident’s mutual monitoring, rites of passage from childhood through adulthood, and strengthening of family ties, then conducted a thought experiment about implementing such practices in Tokyo’s urban context. Inhabiting urban neighborhoods, these “Urban Namahage” evolve as they adapt to particular areas such as Akihabara, Harajuku, and Sugamo, and identify “bad children” (i.e., adults needing discipline) in each neighborhood. They use a database with information collected through mutual monitoring over social media and neighborhood surveillance networks spread throughout the city. Appearing on New Year’s Eve, the Namahage enforce “discipline” with mind hacks that fully exploit sensing and VR technologies, bringing growth, happiness, and blessings to the people of the city. In Oga’s Namahage rituals, the Namahage mask is usually made from the particular products of each village, so Tokyo’s Namahage is also made of materials bought and sold in Akihabara.

Media Art Director: Ichihara Etsuko
Communication Planner: Abe Genki
Strategist Manager: Kawauchi Yukie
Technical Producer: Nozaki Kazuhisa
Supervisor: Morita Hiroshi
Video Original Writing & Planning: Aso Kamo
Video Direction: Matsu Hiroaki (TYO)
Video Producer: Watanabe Masahi (MAZRI Inc.)
Videography Assistant: Ishibashi Hiroki (MAZRI Inc.)
Mask Production of NAMAHAGE in Akihabara: Ikeuchi Hiroto
Costume Production of NAMAHAGE in Akihabara: chloma
Costume of NAMAHAGE in Harajuku: chloma
Mask and Costume Production of NAMAHAGE in Sugamo: korotoro Nakasaka Akiko
UI Visual Design: Nakamura Keiichi, Yokoyama Naoto (flapper3 Inc.)
Motion Graphic: Nakamura Keiichi, Yokoyama Naoto (flapper3 Inc.)
Logo Design: Hata Yurie
Website Production: Chono Kaoru (602 inc.)
Cooperation: Oga City, Akita Prefecture

*This video was implemented as Olympic and Paralympic basic policy research in 2016 commissioned by the Cabinet Secretariat Olympic and Paralympic Promotion Office.

Ritual Prayer Robot Jomon ver., 2020

Derived from 3D data of Kaen Doki Flame Pottery excavated in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, this is a fantasized ceremony whereby a robot dedicates a dance of worship while reciting “norito” ritual Shinto prayers. While inheriting the faith the Jomon people may have invested in their flame pottery, this creates a vision of a future landscape never seen before. The norito prayers read by the robot used Noh performer Yasuda Noboru’s recorded voice.

Planning/Direction: Ichihara Etsuko
Motion Development: Watanabe Chika
Norito: Yasuda Noboru
Video Direction and Editing: Sakamoto Asato (The Light Source/Whole Universe)
Videography: Tanaka Kazuya (Peephole)
Studio Provided by: Creative Orca Inc.
Production Cooperation: 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT “traNslatioNs - Understanding Misunderstanding” (Directed by Dominick Chen)

*Established in 2018 by “Jomon Bunka Hasshin Supporters” (Jomon Culture Transmission Supporters), the “Jomon Open Source / Project” conveys the charm of Jomon to the present age and posts 3D models of flame pottery and clay figurines in the public domain on the Internet. This work was produced as a part of that project.
*This work utilizes precision 3D measurement data created through joint research between the Kyushu National Museum, Otsuka Ohmi Ceramics Co., Ltd., and Nagaoka City.


Ichihara Etsuko

Born 1988 in Aichi Prefecture, Media Artist, Fantasy Inventor. Graduated in Studies of Media, Body and Image from the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University. She has been creating artworks that interpret Japanese culture, customs and beliefs from a unique point of view and present new, technology-based approaches. She received the Excellence Award in the Entertainment Division at the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival and Honorary Mention at Ars Electronica. She has recently presented her works in exhibitions such as “Digital Shamanism: Japanese Funeral and Festivity” at NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo, 2016), “Ars Electronica Festival” in Linz, “Japan Media Arts Festival”. She is a basic concept design creator for the Japan Pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai.


Relation Program