Yumeji Art Museum


In Okayama City, just a short walk away from Korakuen – one of the 3 great gardens in Japan – stands the Yumeji Art Museum. Though small, the red-brick museum holds an impressive collection that’s dedicated to Yumeji Takehisa, a prolific artist from the Taisho era. 


Original works by Yumeji on display


Yumeji Art Museum - painting drawn by Yumeji Takehisa
Image credit: Yumeji Art Museum

Born in 1884 in Okayama, Yumeji Takehisa was a Japanese poet and painter who was active in the early 1900s. 

Nicknamed the Ukiyo-e artist of the Taisho era”, Yumeji was known for his bijin-ga (美人画; pictures of beautiful women), which were drawn using traditional Japanese painting techniques, as well as Western approaches. 

Yumeji Art Museum - Yumeji was known for using traditional Japanese painting techniques
Image credit: @kuronosuke.yumeji_art_museum

His approach to bijin-ga and delicate portrayal of women is said to have had a major influence on the early shōjo manga genre. 

In particular, his depiction of doe-eyed women runs parallel to the big sparkly eyes that eventually became the defining trait of early shōjo manga, such as the iconic The Rose of Versailles

Yumeji Art Museum - more than 100 original works by the late artist on display in the exhibition
Image credit: Yumeji Art Museum

In the exhibition space, visitors will find more than 100 original works by the late artist on display, including poems, serialised newspaper illustrations, and advertising materials. 

Though small, Yumeji Art Museum holds special exhibitions regularly to introduce the public to the artist’s wide range of works, as well as modern Okayama-born artists and designers who have been influenced by Yumeji. 


Furry museum guard that’s the splitting image of Yumeji’s cat 


Yumeji Art Museum - furry garden guardian, Kuronosuke
Image credit: @kuronosuke.yumeji_art_museum

What’s so special about the museum is its furry garden guardian, Kuronosuke, a black cat who has been bestowed the title of oniwaban (御庭番). The title traditionally refers to undercover agents working for the Edo Shogunate. 

Yumeji Art Museum - Yumeji, who has a penchant for cats, often includes motifs of felines in his illustrations and paintings
Image credit: @yayoi_yumeji

Yumeji, who has a penchant for cats, often includes motifs of felines in his illustrations and paintings. Serendipitously, Kuronosuke bears a striking resemblance to the black cat depicted in many of Yumeji’s work. 

Yumeji Art Museum - the black kitten was rescued and saved by a staff member
Image credit: @kuronosuke.yumeji_art_museum

Like a story straight out of a fairy tale, the encounter between Kuronosuke and the museum was a fateful one. About to be run over at an intersection near Yumeji Art Museum in 2016, the black kitten was rescued and saved by a staff member.   

Yumeji Art Museum - black cat motifs can be seen everywhere on the premises as Kuronosuke works as the museum’s guard and mascot
Image credit: @kuronosuke.yumeji_art_museum

When the museum director laid his eyes on the black kitten, he thought that Yumeji’s illustrations came to life, and hence eventually decided to adopt the cat. Today, black cat motifs can be seen everywhere on the premises as Kuronosuke works as the museum’s guard and mascot.

Yumeji Art Museum - Kuronosuke at work
Image credit: @kuronosuke.yumeji_art_museum

Like any other working member of society, this furry museum assistant is entitled to paid leave. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of Kuronosuke at work, be sure to check if he’s on duty that day via their official Instagram page before heading down.


Visiting Yumeji Art Museum


Yumeji Art Museum - Yumeji Art Museum is easily accessible from JR Okayama Station by bus or the local tram
Image credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Yumeji Art Museum is easily accessible from JR Okayama Station by bus or the local tram. For the former, board the bus that’s headed for Fujiwara Danchi at the bus terminal. It will take around 15 minutes and costs ¥140 (~USD1.02)

Alternatively, you can also hop on the tram (¥100, ~USD0.73), also known as Okaden, on the Higashiyama Line. The station is just across the road from the bus terminal. Alight at the 3rd stop, Shiroshita Station, and walk another 15 minutes. 

Yumeji Art Museum - Museum & souvenir shop
Image credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Museum & souvenir shop
Address: 2 Chome-1-32 Hama, Naka Ward, 703-8256 Okayama
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed on Mondays & 28th December – 1st January) (Last admission at 4.30pm)
Admission: ¥800 (~USD5.85) for adults, ¥400 (~USD2.93) for university, high school, and middle school students, and ¥300 (~USD2.20) for elementary school students
Contact: 0862-71-1000 | Yumeji Art Museum Website

Museum Cafe
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-4pm (Closed on Mondays & 28th December – 1st January) 

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Cover image adapted from (clockwise from left): @kuronosuke.yumeji_art_museum, Fashion Press and Xiu Ting Wong

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