This Japanese Professor Creates Optical Illusions Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Before

Are this cylinders round or square? Image: The Illusion Contest/Youtube

Internet, it’s time you met Kokichi Sugihara: master mind-muddler, black belt in brain boggling, and optical offender. He’s also a professor of mathematical engineering at Meiji University in Tokyo, and two-time winner of the Illusion of the Year award.

For safety reasons, it’s best to ease yourself into his collection of geometric misdemeanors, so we’ll start with his so-called Ambiguous Cylinders – for which he was awarded second place in the 2016 Illusion of the Year contest.

The secret to this visual riot lies in the fact that the cylinders are in fact a perfect blend between a circle and a square, with one side sloping upwards and the other downwards.

In Sugihara’s own words, “Because the images do not contain information about depth, the brain must guess by entering additional information such as squareness or symmetry,” the Daily Mail reports.

With that in mind, get a load of some of his other illusions, and have your mind added to the long list of those to have been blown by the Japanese genius.


In practical terms, this arrow that only ever points one way is pretty useless, but as an optical illusion it’s a total banger. Sugihara even wrote a paper explaining how he created it, using what he calls “anomalous mirror symmetry”.

This absolute scandal, entitled Magnet-Like Slopes, won Sugihara his first Illusion of the Year award in 2010.

His next triumph in the annual contest came in 2018, thanks to this work called Triply Ambiguous Objects.

In a document explaining how this illusion was created, Sugihara reveals that “when we see the artwork in a slanted direction, we feel that we are seeing something in the 3D space instead of just seeing a picture facing toward ourselves. In this situation, we are conscious about the direction of the gravity, which is emphasized by the pin standing vertically.”


For more of his amazing works of wizardry, check out his website.


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