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Train with works by Yumeji Takehisa renovated

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yumeji Takehisa’s paintings adorn the ceiling of a newly renovated train.

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of Yumeji Takehisa (1884-1934), a painter and poet who represented Taisho Romanticism. He was born in the village of Honjo, now Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture.

As a project to commemorate this occasion, Okayama Electric Tramway Co. in Okayama City, his train was renovated to display Yumeji’s works. With the interior decorated with the artist’s works and music he composed, passengers can take a ride into a world of art.

The decorated train, which began running in 2014 to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Yumeji’s birth, was designed by Eiji Mitooka, an industrial designer from the prefecture. For the redesign, Mitooka once again took charge of the work. About 40 beautifully framed paintings of beautiful women and other subjects adorn the black body and ceiling of the train. The windows feature eight plant motifs, including camellias and strawberries, and resemble stained glass.

‘Yoimachigusa’, evening primrose, is a song with lyrics written by Yumeji, which plays when the train doors open and close. Performed by violinist Junei Osako, the refined beauty of the song echoes through the train.

“The train is Taisho romance itself. You can enjoy Yumeji’s art both inside and outside the train,” said Mitsunobu Kojima, representative of the Ryobi Group, which includes the Okayama Electric Tramway, at the train’s launch ceremony on April 8.

“I hope that together with the renovation of the old train, people in Okayama will rediscover the story of Yumeji,” Mitooka said.

The Yumeji works train makes four round trips every day on the Higashiyama Line.

Yumeji Culture2
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Violinist Junei Osako plays “Yoimachigusa” in front of the completed train during the launching ceremony in Okayama City.

Traveling exhibitions

To commemorate the 140th anniversary of Yumeji’s birth, the Yumeji Art Museum in Naka Ward, Okayama City, is planning a traveling exhibition to six locations in the country, including Tokyo and Osaka. The oil painting ‘Amaryllis’, which the museum purchased in 2022, will also be on display.

The work, which dates from around 1919, shows a woman in a kimono, modeled on Yumeji’s then lover, behind a potted amaryllis. The melanchoic eyes and large hands are hallmarks of ‘Yumeji-style beauty’ and the museum called this work ‘Yumeji’s Mona Lisa’.

The work was displayed in the salon of a Tokyo hotel after being shown in an exhibition. But after the hotel closed in 1944, it went missing until it was discovered in 2022 and purchased by the museum.

About 170 works, including sketches, will be on display. The exhibition will start in June at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum and will be held from September at the Yumeji Art Museum in Okayama Prefecture.



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