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Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography

Dedicated to Tottori’s most influential surreal photographer.

By Laura Payne

One of Tottori Prefecture’s most influential local artists was the photographer Shoji Ueda. Today, Ueda’s world-renowned legacy is shared with the public in a museum that is itself a work of art.

Situated among the farmlands that surround Mount Daisen, this angular concrete building (designed by architect Shin Takamatsu) forms a surreal contrast—evoking how Ueda’s most famous photos create surreal scenes from Tottori’s natural environment.

Step inside this building to explore Ueda’s unique views of the world.

Who is Shoji Ueda?

Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography

Photo by: PIXTA/Morisot Even the museum facade feels like a scene that’s detached from reality.

Shoji Ueda was born in Tottori in 1913 and started taking photos from a young age. He developed a surreal style of photography that used everyday people, objects and landscapes to create scenes that looked detached from reality. Many of Ueda’s iconic works were shot in Tottori—such as a series of photos that used the prefecture’s famous sand dunes as a backdrop.

Although Ueda insisted he was an amateur photographer, his work rose to fame in Japan and abroad. Throughout his life, Ueda won awards, earned publication in magazines and had his work displayed in places such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Additionally, his photos were considered so unique in France that they were simply described as “Ueda style.”

Ueda died in the year 2000, but before his death, he saw the opening of the Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography, which currently houses thousands of his photographs.

Exploring the museum

Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography

Photo by: WikiCommons/663highland Mount Daisen in the distance.

Throughout the year, the Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography curates rotating exhibits that introduce Ueda’s vast body of work. In addition to displaying his famous surrealist photos, the museum also houses collections of realistic portraits and landscapes—which offer glimpses of life in Japan in the 20th century.

The museum also aims to spark visitors’ own interest in photography through hands-on experiences. On the museum’s second floor, visitors can create their own surreal photos by posing with props in front of a view of Mount Daisen. In another area, the museum has created a giant camera obscura—a precursor to modern cameras—which uses a dark room, special lenses and natural light to project an image without a power source. Step inside this room, and you can see an upside-down real-time image of the landscape outside the museum.

After viewing the exhibits, visitors can peruse photo books, postcards and other souvenirs in the museum shop. If Ueda’s photos speak to you, this shop offers the chance to take some home.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

The museum’s typical opening hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Last entry at 4:30 pm). It is usually closed every Tuesday and during periods between exhibits.

More details about admission and exhibits can be found on the museum’s official website.

How To Get There


By train

From Yonago station, the museum is about a 20 to 30-minute taxi ride.

Alternatively, the museum is about a 10-minute taxi ride from JR’s Kishimoto station on the Hakubi Line (note this station is small and may not always have taxis waiting).

By car

The museum is accessible by local roads and highways, and free parking is offered on-site. Rental cars can be found at various places near Yonago station.

Where To Stay

Auberge Florence
  • 1542-142 Tatarado, Saihaku-gun Daisen-cho, Tottori, 689-3317 Japan
  • ¥90,000 - ¥120,000
  • 6.6 km
Sejour Oyama Annex 3rd Building
  • 312-26 Akamatsu, Saihaku-gun Daisen-cho, Tottori, 689-3319 Japan
  • ¥61,600 - ¥123,200
  • 6.7 km
Sejour Oyama Annex 1st Building
  • 1542-86 Tatarado, Saihaku-gun Daisen-cho, Tottori, 689-3317 Japan
  • ¥46,200 - ¥92,400
  • 6.7 km
Kaike Fuga
  • 3-16-1 Kaikeonsen, Yonago-shi, Tottori, 683-0001 Japan
  • ¥9,504 - ¥61,776
  • 4.35/5 (1,479 reviews)
  • 9.7 km
Washington Hotel Plaza Yonago
  • 125 Meijicho, Yonago-shi, Tottori, 683-0053 Japan
  • ¥6,000 - ¥20,000
  • 3.8/5 (1,295 reviews)
  • 9.9 km

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