Let’s Learn About the Poet-Painter from Okayama, Yumeji! – Yumeji Birthplace Memorial Museum・Shonensanso


Are you familiar with Takehisa Yumeji? Born in Okayama, Yumeji was a poet-painter who stood at the forefront of Taisho Romanticism, and whose work is still admired to this day as the pride of Okayama. To learn more about him, I went to an annex of the Yumeji Art Museum in Okayama City―the Yumeji Birthplace Memorial Museum・Shonensanso in Setouchi City!


Note: Taisho Romanticism refers to a Japanese art movement that arose during the Taisho Era (1912-1926). While still being impacted by the heavy Western influence of the time, this art remained a distinctly Japanese cultural product. A deeply interesting period of modern Japanese history, its study is necessary for understanding the changes that led to Japanese culture and society as we know them now.




As the name suggests, there are two parts to the museum annex: the Yumeji Birthplace Memorial Museum inside the over 250 year old building where Yumeji was born and raised, along with the Shonensanso (Youth Mountain Cottage), a reconstruction of a studio-house that Yumeji designed himself in Tokyo.




At the Yumeji Birthplace Memorial Museum I was able to learn a lot about Yumeji’s life and surroundings during his childhood. It makes a lot of sense to me now why much of his art features nature and children, alongside his usual subject of women.




There were a lot of his works on display that drew my attention as well. What really impressed me, was how he was able to draw his evocative “Yumeji style beauties” with just a few, elegantly curving strokes.




At Tsubakisabo (Camellia Teahouse) next door to the museum, I enjoyed seasonal wagashi (Japanese style sweets) inspired by Yumeji’s art, along with his childhood favorite zenzai (sweet red bean soup) while admiring the Yumeji themed souvenirs on sale. There’s nothing quite as nice as sipping good tea in a relaxing environment.




The many unique rooms of the Shonensanso were also very interesting!




I could really feel the combination of Japanese and Western influences throughout.




The second floor is even entirely devoted to works of art by current artists who have been influenced by Yumeji.




After my visit I now have a much clearer image of who Yumeji was. I can definitely understand why Okayama is proud to claim him!


Museum hours:  9am-5pm (Entry until 4:30pm, Tsubakisabo open until 4pm)

Closed on Mondays.


Admission:   ¥600 for adults.

Combined tickets for both the Yumeji Art Museum (2-1-32, Hama, Naka Ward, Okayama City) and the Yumeji Birthplace Memorial Museum・Shonensanso are only ¥1100.


Access:   About 10 minutes by bus or taxi from JR Oku station, along the Ako line.


Author: Felix

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