Yamamoto Shoun was born Japan’s fourth island Shikoku, in Kochi prefecture. Son of a samurai family, as a teenage he studied Kano school painting, until moving to Tokyo at age 17, where he took up Nanga (lit. Southern painting).
At 20, he was employed as a magazine illustrator which centred around landmarks and sightseeing in Tokyo. Shoun is best known for his woodblock prints of bijin-ga (beauty prints) and a group of humorous prints. Shoun is considered a bridge between ukiyo-e and shin-hanga. His career spans across Meiji (1868–1912), Taisho (1912–1926) and Showa (1926–1989) periods. Yamamoto Shoun signed most of his works with a very small compact signature of the two kanji reading Shoun.