Born and trained in Tokyo, she joined The Royal Ballet School in 1983, after winning the Prix de Lausanne. In 1984, she joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet) and was promoted to Principal in 1988, and in 1995 she joined The Royal Ballet. In 2010, she left The Royal Ballet and now acting as a dancer of freelance.
Her repertory includes Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Lise in La Fille mal gardee, the title role in Gissele, Swanilda in Coppelia, Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker, Kitri in the Don Quixote, the title role in Cinderella, the title role in Ondine, Chloe in Daphnis and Choloe, Tchaikovsky pas de deux, Le Corsaire pas de deux, Homage to The Queen and leading roles in Prince of the Pagodas, Symphonic Variations, Elite Syncopations and the title role in Snow Queen.
Her awards include the Global Award in 1989, the Arts Encouragement Prize for Artists of the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Japan in 2001, an OBE (Order of the British Empire), the Purple Ribbon Medal from the Emperor of Japan in 2007, Mainichi Art Award in 2011 and DSC Award in 2012. She was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2004 and UNHCR Artist in 2012. She joined Prix de Lausanne three times as a judge since 2009.