The recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s 2017 Circle of Excellence Award, Motoko has performed professionally across the U.S. since 1993. She trained with master mime Tony Montanaro (1927-2002) and renowned Appalachian storyteller Elizabeth Ellis. Motoko’s repertoire includes Asian folktales, Rakugo and Zen tales, mime vignettes, as well as personal stories from her childhood in Osaka and her life as an immigrant in the U.S.
Motoko has appeared on PBS’ Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and an educational video by Harcourt, and 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 part of CarnegieKids in Miyazaki Project, sponsored by Carnegie Hall.
Her story CDs have won a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award, a Storytelling World Award, and a National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA). She is the author of A Year in Japan: Folktales, Songs and Art for the Classroom.
2015 saw the premiere of her storytelling concert, “Rakugo: Comical Tales from Japan” (featuring Masayo Ishigure on koto and shamisen) at the University of Massachusetts. In 2016 Motoko made her fourth featured appearance at the prestigious National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where she premiered “RADIANT: Stories from Fukushima,” an original one woman multimedia performance on Japan’s 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown.
“The entire evening was outstanding! One of the most enjoyable performances…Motoko translates intrinsically Japanese cultural ideas and idioms for an English-speaking audience and craft[s] the words to make them understand, laugh, and [transport them] in time and space. “—Ranjanaa Devi, Director, the Asian Arts & Culture Program, Fine Arts Center, the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
View more about Motoko in an informative video here.