1921    Born in Kobe.  Spends youth in Dalian and Harbin in Manchuria.

1938-45     Studied at Joshibi Women’s School of Art and Design; studies interrupted by war.

1950s     Works in the Chikuho mining region of Kyushu, producing drawings and lithographs expressing the artist’s social commitment. Exhibit at Shiseidō Gallery in Ginza September 26-October 1, 1955

1960s  Travels to Latin America via Africa, and later to the Middle East and Central Asia.

1970s  Produces lithographs based on the poetry of South Korean political prisoner, Kim Ji-ha.  Chained Hands in Prayer, Korea is finished in 1974.

1975    Completes “On the Poems of Kim Ji-ha and Pablo Neruda,” a series of lithographs exhibited in New York, Chicago, and Berkeley.  Also completes Deep Night: Poems by Kim Ji-ha, Prints by Tomiyama Taeko and Heaven and Earth in Central Asia.

1976-77  Following the censorship of a television film on Kim Ji-ha, Tomiyama sets up Hidane Kōbō, a workshop/studio for the production of multi-media slide works. Tomiyama’s collaborations with musician and composer Takahashi Yūji have continued to the present. The film, composed of photographs of Tomiyama’s lithographs, is also called Chained Hands in Prayer, Korea.

1980    Kwangju, May 1980: A Prayer in Memory, shown in Sapporo and the Kansai region of Japan.           

1982-83    Exhibitions held in Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg and Munich.

1984    Completes Coerced and Forlorn, a series of lithographs and collages based on poems by Yun Dong-ju, who wrote about conscripted Korean laborers, and who died at 28 in a prison in Fukuoka, Japan. Hajike Hosenka (Pop Out Balsam Seeds!), a film produced by Tsuchimoto Noriaki (Gentōsha) is based on this work.

1986    Completes a series of paintings treating the theme of the “military comfort women,” Memories of the Sea.  These works are dramatized as Umi nari, hana yose (The roaring of the sea, the gathering of flowers), directed by Satō Shin, performed by Black Tent.

1988    Completes multi-media slide work, A Memory of the Sea which is exhibited in London and Berlin.  

1989-92  A Thai Girl Who Never Returned Home  exhibited in Bangkok and Tokyo.  The paintings that were the basis of this slide show comprise Let’s go to Japan!

1995    Tomiyama Taeko: 50 Years after the War, exhibit at Tama Art Museum, Tokyo and Tonga Gallery, Seoul.
Completes multi-media slide work Harbin: Requiem for the 20th Century.  Invited to exhibit in the Art as Witness project at the first Gwangju Biennale.

1998    From Asia: Tomiyama Taeko and Hong Song-dam, exhibition held in Gwangju at the May 18 Cemetery, Special Gallery, Puchon City Hall in South Korea and in Kawasaki City, Japan.

1999  Exhibition of work at Liberty Osaka.
Completes multi-media slide work, The Fox Story: Illusion of Cherry Blossoms and Chrysanthemums

2000  Invited to exhibit work in the 3rd Gwangju Biennale.
Collaborative project Fox and Coal Mines exhibited in Tokyo.

2001 Let’s Go to Japan! exhibited at Seikei University, Tokyo.  

2002    The Shaman and the Fox exhibited at Kyoto Seika University.

2005-06 Remembrance and Reconciliation, collages and prints, exhibited in Ruhr, Germany, Philadelphia, and Evanston, IL.

2009 Hiruko and the Puppeteers: A Tale of Sea Wanderers, paintings and collages, exhibited at the Niigata Tsūmari Trienniale Summer 2009

2009 Begins new series on Afghanistan.

Additional information:

Tomiyama Taeko home page:

Laura Hein and Rebecca Jennison, eds., Imagination Without Borders: Feminist Artist Tomiyama Taeko and Social Responsibility, Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2010.

Tomiyama Taeko and Takahashi Yuji, Hiruko and the Puppeteers: A Tale of Sea Wanderers, bilingual book and DVD, Tokyo: Gendaikikakushitsu, 2009.

「蛭子と傀儡子-旅芸人の物語」絵:富山妙子 音楽:高治 橋悠 日英対訳、東京:現代貴下室、2009年8月、ISBN 978-4-7738-0908-4

Requiem for the 20th Century: Paintings and Music Come Together to Tell the Tale of an Era, Tomiyama Taeko and Takahashi Yūji, The Third Chino Kaori Memorial ‘New Visions’ Lecture, Kyoto: Medieval Japanese Studies Institute: Center for the Study of Women, Buddhism, and Cultural History, 2006.  第三回千野香記念「新視点」公演、20世紀へのレクイエムーー絵と音楽が出会って時代をつげる、京都;中世日本研究ジェンだ∸文化研究所、2006年。ISBN 4-9902832-2-8.

Women in Japan: Memories of the Past, Dreams for the Future, by Joanne Hershfield & Jan Bardsley, 2002.  This features six Japanese women, including Tomiyama.  Please see Jan Bardsley’s website for lesson plans associated with the film and purchasing information.