The Yumeji Art Museum: Experience the Charms of the Taisho Romantic Born in Okayama 130 Years ago!

During the period of ‘Taisho Romance’, Yumeji Takehisa was active in a variety of arts, as a painter, designer as well as a poet. Yumeji who is known for his illustrations of beautiful women with gloomy expressions was actually born in Okayama.

 

This time I would like to introduce the art museum located next to Okayama Korakuen garden, which is a place where you can enjoy the works of Yumeji and follow his footprints!

The art museum was built to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Yumeji’s birth. The redbrick building topped with a weather vane has a retro exterior reminiscent of the Taisho period.

Including his largest existing work, a folding screen painting with his handwriting, the collection includes around 3000 works such as hanging scrolls, oil paintings, watercolor paintings, sketches, woodblock prints, and bound books and letters written by Yumeji.

Around 4 times a year, special exhibitions of about 100 works are held to introduce the charm of Yumeji’s art.

 

Photograph panels display images of Yumeji’s son and his most beloved woman, Hikono.

Unfortunately, taking photographs of the works on display is not possible, so this time we will introduce the highlights together with some original goods found at the museum shop.

When talking about Yumeji, the first thing that comes mind is his illustrations of beautiful women. With their anguished expressions and fragile yet supple forms, the ‘Yumeji-style beauties’ were created with a unique sense of aesthetic. The most popular ones have been turned into colored paper and woodblock prints and are on sale in the museum shop.

 

These original candies, made in cooperation with the well-established Japanese confectioner Eitaro (main store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo) are sold only in the museum shop.

 

The packages, decorated with various illustrations of Yumeji’s beautiful women, look like postcards from the front and back. By adding the appropriate stamps, you can send a package by mail as is with the candies inside. They make lovely gifts and souvenirs.

“Aki no kesho” (‘Make-up in autumn’), a bag created in a collaboration between Yumeji Art Museum and Takeyari, a well established sailcloth manufacturer based in Kurashiki, is a limited-edition product made to celebrate the 130-year anniversary of Yumeji’s birth. It’s a very intricate bag with an appliqué, embroidered Yumeji illustration of a beautiful woman on blue sailcloth.

 

What also makes Yumeji’s works interesting is that they allow a glimpse of the trends and fashions in his time.

 

Many of the illustrations and other works have been made into postcards.

Pay attention not only to the women, but also to the beauty of the kimono and the obi (kimono sashes) and you won’t miss out on the influence on fashion that Yumeji had on women from the Meiji to the Taisho era.

 

At the time, the highest praise you could give a woman was to tell her that she looked “like a person from a Yumeji illustration”. Many women may have used Yumeji’s illustrations as models and copied the actions and way of dressing to try and become a “Yumeji-style beauty”.

The most popular products in the museum shop are the original rolls of Yumeji Japanese paper masking tape featuring Yumeji’s works. In freeing the imagination, they allow you to make collages and unique accessories.

As he designed various patterns, the multitalented Yumeji used flowers and birds, as well as small animals, etc. as motifs. In modern world terms, he was the pioneer for graphic designers.

 

Visitors can spend a while quietly immersing themselves in the world of Yumeji at the museoums Café Matsuka. It offers a set that includes Yumeji’s favorite Garibaldi raisin cookies and black tea.

Part of their charm is that you don’t need to pay the museum admission fee to enter the museum shop or café.

At the Yumeji Art Museum Bunkan (Oku-cho, Setouchi city, Okayama prefecture), around 30-minutes drive from the Honkan, you can find Yumeji’s thatch roofed birth home where he lived until the age of 16. It is open to the public, and a taxi plan is available from the Honkan. If have time, please go visit Bunkan as well.

 

Yumeji Art Museum Honkan

Address: 2-1-32 Hama, Naka ward, Okayama city, Okayama prefecture
TEL: 086-271-1000
Open: 9.00-17.00 (Entrance until 16.30)
Closed: Mondays (When Monday is a public holiday, closed the following day), December 28th thru January 1st
Admission: Adults JPY700, Middle, High school and university students JPY400, Elementary school students JPY300
Access: 15-minutes walk towards Korakuen garden main entrance from Okayama Electric Tramway Higashiyama line’s Shiroshita station

Yumeji Art Museum Bunkan

Address: Honjo, Oku-cho, Setouchi city, Okayama prefecture
TEL: 0869-22-0622
Open: 9.00-17.00 (Entrance until 16.30)
Closed: Mondays (When Monday is a public holiday, closed the following day), December 28th thru January 1st
Admission: Adults JPY500, Middle, High school & university students JPY250, Elementary school students JPY200
Access: 10 minutes by bus or taxi from JR Ako line’s Oku station
Homepage: http://yumeji-art-museum.com/
http://yumeji-art-museum.com/07_index-e.html

By,
The Setouchi Finder Editors

 

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