Yumeji Modern Designing the Everyday in Twentieth-Century Japan

Nozomi Naoi

The hugely popular Japanese artist Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934) is an emblematic figure of Japan’s rapidly changing cultural milieu in the early twentieth century. His graphic works include leftist and antiwar illustrations in socialist bulletins, wrenching portrayals of Tokyo after the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, and fashionable images of beautiful women—referred to as “Yumeji-style beauties”—in books and magazines that targeted a new demographic of young female consumers. Yumeji also played a key role in the reinvention of the woodblock medium. As his art and designs proliferated in Japan’s mass media, Yumeji became a recognizable brand.

In the first full-length English-language study of Yumeji’s work, Nozomi Naoi examines the artist’s role in shaping modern Japanese identity. Addressing his output from the start of his career in 1905 to the 1920s, when his productivity peaked, Yumeji Modern introduces for the first time in English translation a substantial body of Yumeji’s texts, including diary entries, poetry, essays, and commentary, alongside his illustrations. Naoi situates Yumeji’s graphic art within the emerging media landscape from 1900s through the 1910s, when novel forms of reprographic communication helped create new spaces of visual culture and image circulation. Yumeji’s legacy and his present-day following speak to the broader, ongoing implications of his work with respect to commercial art, visual culture, and print media.

Naoi Yumeji cover


  • $65.00 cloth, 9780295746838
  • $65.00 ebook, 9780295746845
  • 300 pages
  • 112 illus., 36 in color, 7 x 10 in.

about the author

Nozomi Naoi did her graduate work at Harvard University in the Department of History of Art and Architecture where she completed her MA in 2009 and her PhD in 2014. Before starting her graduate program, Dr. Naoi worked as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She received her undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Dr. Naoi has co-curated the first exhibition focused on Takehisa Yumeji outside of Japan, Takehisa Yumeji: Artist of Romance and Nostalgia (Nihon no hanga Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2015). She is also the co-author of the accompanying exhibition catalogue, Takehisa Yumeji for which she received the first Takehisa Yumeji Research Society Award (March 4, 2017) for contributing to Yumeji studies in the English language scholarship.

Dr. Naoi has published on the development of Japanese posters, “The Modern Beauty in Taishō Media,” in The Women of Shin Hanga (Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2013), which analyses the image of the female beauty in Japanese poster production and addresses issues of advertisement, department stores, consumer culture, and design. She is currently working on two research projects. The first project furthers her previous work on Japanese poster design to examine the role of department stores, designers, and global modernism during the early twentieth century. She is focusing on poster designs by Sugiura Hisui (1876-1965), Mitsukoshi department store’s in-house designer and founding director of Advertising, and other works from the modern to postwar era. The second project, which takes a more multi-disciplinary approach, examines the visualization of children and childhood in art and literary magazines in modern Japan. The image and value of the modern Japanese child demonstrated through the print media convey the formation and role of family identity, gender roles, education, and class in modern Japan. Dr. Naoi has presented multiple times on these two projects.