A love letter to ancient samurai history

  • Year
    2023 - 2024
  • Discipline
    website, interaction, illustration
  • Type
    Educational Website

A peek into Japan's three great unifiers


The Unifiers of Japan was inspired by our recent fascination with ancient samurai history thanks to the FX Shogun series and the Netflix documentary "Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan". Coincidentally, Ukiyo-e was also in the forefront of our minds at that time which sparked the idea to transport 1600s Japan to 2024.

Each of the daimyo were carefully referenced from their original portraits, repositioned as frontal views vs. their quarter profiles. We wanted to capture their facial silhouettes and unique characteristics in a bold and engaging way while wearing their iconic robes and crests. It was integral for us to maintain the integrity of its historical context and use it as the compass for our expression.

If Hiroshige and Hokusai were millennial designers...

The overarching illustration style and design approach is lightly inspired by Ukiyo-e - the use of subtle gradients, the border designs, and the grainy effects - but made modern. We imagine this might be how the great Ukiyo-e painters would approach their art if they were designers today.

Greatest moments from the greatest rulers


At the core of this mini site, we wanted to showcase the differences between each leader and their greatest pivotal moments of their careers. As the saying goes:
Nobunaga says "Little bird, if you don't sing I will kill you".
Hideyoshi says "Little bird, if you don't sing, I'll make you sing".
Then Tokugawa Ieyasu says to the bird "Little bird, if you don't sing I will wait for you to sing".

Each leader includes the cards they have up their sleeves - representing how they play their military tactics during the constant war of feudal Japan and where their ruling base were in context of modern prefecture names.

Explore the site: