Yorozu Tetsugoro was born on the 17th November, 1885, the eldest son of Yorozu Yasojiro, who ran a forwarding merchant.From the age of fourteen, he began his independent study of Japanese art. At the age of sixteen, he read Oshita Tojiro's 'Suisaiga no Shiori' (A Guide to Watercolors) and he began to paint his own watercolors. From then on his aspiration was to become a painter. In 1903, he traveled to Tokyo with his cousin where he attended 3rd Year of the Waseda Junior High School.
In 1904 he studied Zen meditation under the tutelage of the Zen Priest Taninaka Ryoboan. In 1905 he began to attend the Hakubakai Institute in Hongo. After graduating from Junior High School in 1906, he traveled to the United States as part of a Zen mission, returning to Japan that year. In 1906 he gained admission to the Preliminary Course for the Western Painting Faculty of the Tokyo Fine Arts School. He married Hamada Yoshi in 1908. In 1910 he formed the Absinthe Group with his fellow classmates Hirai Tamenari and Yamashita Tetsunosuke.
In 1911 he graduated from the Western Painting Faculty of the Tokyo Fine Arts School. His graduation art piece, Nude Beauty, won much acclaim. It is considered to be a pioneering work of Japanese Fauvism. In the same year he participated in a Fyuzankai with Saito Yori and Kishida Ryusei. In the first exhibition he displayed his artwork, including, among others, Head of a Woman (Woman with a Boa). The society was disbanded the following year. At this stage in his career, Yorozu was influenced strongly by the European Avant-garde Movement, and he began to experiment painting in this style.
In 1914 Yorozu returned to Tsuchizawa in Iwate Prefecture to apply himself to his paintings. He strived to develop his own personal style through the language of Cubism, painting a variety of self-portraits, landscape and still-life paintings. Five years later he returned to Tokyo. At the 4th Nika Exhibition held in 1917, he displayed Leaning Woman and 'Still-life with a Brush Stand', which provoked wide acclaim. During this time he also displayed his still-life works at exhibitions including the Japanese Art Society Exhibition and the Inten Exhibition.
In 1919, fatigue and insomnia led to his developing an acute case of neurasthenia, and he was prompted to move to Chigasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture for recuperation. After displaying four of his works including Town Looked Down through the Branches at the 6th Nika Exhibition, he was selected as a member of the Nika Society. His submission to have his work Three Bathers displayed at the Teiten Exhibition in 1921 was rejected. From then on he began his studies of 'Nanga' - literati paintings. He participated as an invited member of the Shunyokai in 1922, and became a member of the Japan Watercolor Painting Association. In 1923 he established the Enchokai together with Kobayashi Tokusaburo. Maeda Kanji, Hayashi Takeshi and Onchi Kashiro were also members.
Representative of his watercolor paintings in the closing years of his life were his works Nude Woman Putting a Cloth on her Head, exhibited at the 3rd Shunyokai Exhibition in 1925, and In Bathing Costume, displayed at the 5th Shunyokai Exhibition in 1927.
On the 1st May 1927, Yorozu died at his home in Chigasaki at the age of 41, from tuberculosis complicated by pneumonia.