Torajiro Yamada

The 100th anniversary of the Republic of TurkeyTorajiro Yamada Art Director of Sultan Abdülhamid II


Young Japanese of the Meiji era (1868-1912) travelled the world to broaden their horizons to make Japan more attractive.
In 1890, the Ottoman warship Ertugrul arrived in Japan, but on its return journey, a typhoon claimed the lives of most of the crew. Torajiro Yamada, a young man who was deeply affected by this accident, started a donation drive and took the collected donations with him to the Ottoman Empire.
At just 24 years of age, he saw the majesty of the Ottoman culture and the warmth of the people there. This exhibition aims to show through Torajiro Yamada, a Meiji-era figure, how Japan and Turkey, the two countries with different histories interacted, and to provide an opportunity to feel the importance of deep respect for other culture.

CHAPTER 1: Torajiro left for the Ottoman Empire with passion and friendship
The Ottoman Empire is appearing in the exhibition space to invite visitors to the Ottoman, with animated movie of Torajiro’s book “Toruko Gakan (A Pictorial Reflection of Turkey)” which he wrote what he felt and learned in Constantinople (Istanbul), a complicated city with people of different races, nationalities, religions and cultures.

CHAPTER 2: Welcome to Torajiro’s study
This space expresses Torajiro’s personality with reproduction of his study which existed in his house in Osaka. Please enjoy Torajiro’s kitsch taste with tea ceremony set, items which he brought back from the Ottoman, Asia and Europe, and his favorite things.

CHAPTER 3: Postcard library of Chuta Ito and Torajiro
When architect Chuta Ito stayed in the Ottoman Empire, a friendship was born between him and Torajiro. The postcards sent by Chuta on his travel are full of humor. Sometimes he talks passionately about the ruins of Egypt, and sometimes his cute drawing fills a postcard. More than 100 postcards from Chuta that Torajiro had treasured will be shown for the first time in this exhibition. Let’s imagine how they talk with each other.


  • Torajiro Yamada

    Postcard Torajiro drew Istanbul landscape
    Collection: Yamada Family Co.

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    Drawing of crowd on the major bridge from Torajiro Yamada’s “Toruko Gakan (A Pictorial Reflection of Turkey)” published in 1911

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    Advertising poster of Japanese mineral water

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    Postcards sent by Chuta Ito to Torajiro Yamada

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    Postcards sent by Chuta Ito to Torajiro Yamada, 1905

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    Tea cup with Turkish flag drawing

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    Turkish hat-shaped kettle ordered by Torajiro

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    Tenkyu-dana (Utensil stand for tea ceremony “celestial sphere”) whose design in based on Turkey


Torajiro Yamada_portrait

Torajiro Yamada

1866 Born in a high-ranking samurai family of Numata Domain
1881 Adopted by a master of Sohen Tea School and entered the Tokyo Pharmacy School (current Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science)
1884 Graduated from the Tokyo Pharmacy School
1888 Introduced Rohan Koda’s debut novel work “Tsuyu dandan” to a publisher
1890 Collected donations for the Ertugrul disaster
1892 Travelled to the Ottoman Empire to bring the money and was granted an audience with Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II. In his stay in Turkey, he supervised classification of Oriental art pieces in Topkapi Palace, as well as opened Nakamura Shoten and traded arts and crafts between Turkey and Japan. He also supported Japanese people’s visit to Turkey and was called as a civil diplomat.
1905 Returned to Japan and established a paper-manufacturing company as an entrepreneur
1911 Published his sojourn diary in the Ottoman Empire, “Toruko Gakan (A Pictorial Reflection of Turkey)” from Hakubunkan
1923 Became Soyu Yamada, the 8th master of Sohen Tea School
1924 Established Japan-Turkey Trade Association and devoted himself to the friendship between Japan and Turkey until his last days as a chairman
1957 Died at the age of 91

Past exhibitions