A native of Osaka, Japan, and a graduate of International Christian University in Tokyo, Motoko has made Massachusetts her home since 1986. Her early career included teaching Japanese at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for 10 years. She trained with late master mime Tony Montanaro (1927-2002). Her partner Eshu Bumpus, a nationally-known teller of African folktales, introduced her to the world of American storytelling. In recent years she has studied mime with Leland Faulkner and Robert Rivest, and storytelling with Elizabeth Ellis.
Since 1993, Motoko has performed professionally in K-12 schools, libraries, museums, universities and festivals across the U.S. Motoko’s repertoire includes Asian folktales, Zen tales, comical tales from rakugo (a Japanese traditional style of storytelling), funny mime vignettes, as well as personal stories from her childhood in Japan and her life as an immigrant in the U.S. She also offers K-12 classroom workshops and residencies on Japanese culture, ancient China, creative writing, origami geometry, and storytelling.
Motoko has appeared on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and an educational video by Harcourt, and also has been awarded numerous grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and New York State BOCES for her arts-in-education programs. In 2003, Motoko toured Miyazaki, Japan, as a part of CarnegieKids in Miyazaki Project, sponsored by Carnegie Hall.
Her debut CD, “The Promise of Chrysanthemums” won a 2002 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award, a 2003 Storytelling World Award, and a 2007 National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA.) Her fourth CD, “In Ghostly Japan” was released in 2013. She is the author of A Year in Japan: Folktales, Songs and Art for the Classroom.
In October 2011 Motoko made her third featured appearance at the prestigious National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
References will be furnished upon request.