Whatever You Imagine, Including Kiyomori

Remember the news on Tmsuk‘s robot Kiyomori (engadget called it samuraibot)? I read some Japanese blog posts discussing this robot and, as you could imagine, most people’s reactions were something like “oh, it’s so cool!”


Kiyomori surely catches people’s eyes but is it something worthwhile to talk about when there are already other humanoid robots that can stand on two feet? Kiyomori is interesting to me as it could exemplify a shifting focus of robot design away from the technology itself. The robot wears a heute-couture armor that was made by Marutake Sangyo, whose armor products were used in Akira Kurosawa’s movie Ran. And it debuted in an idiosyncratic, nationalistic way — a traditional “two-bows-two-claps-and-one-bow” prayer in a sacred ceremony at Munakata Taisha Shrine, a Shinto Shrine for the god of roads.

[Kiyomori and humans in a ceremony at Munakata Taisha Shrine]

Kiyomori is named after the famous 12th-century Samurai politician Taira no Kiyomori (Japanese Wikipedia has a different image), who is sometimes considered as a upstart tyrant. Why did it have to be named Kiyomori? No one has given me a reasonable answer yet. But, who needs a reasonable answer? Maybe it’s my old school thinking that is problematic.

If a humanoid robot, as a maturing technology, can now be considered as a material that artists and designers use for their creative intentions, I should perhaps say good bye to my petty common sense and get ready to be thrilled by something I’ve never seen.

related: Robots. Better than people?

source: ITMedia[1,2,3], Kiyomori.jp, koyoi no wokazu, Yomiuri Online.