Born into a family of artists and priests, Ayako Kataoka grew up immersed in an atmosphere of Buddhist drawings and sculptures, chant depicted in Japanese calligraphy, and the milieu of traditional Japanese temples. Her ancestral tree begins with its origin as the rulers of religious and Shinto rituals, and part of her family has also been administering a Buddhist temple since 13th century. According to her family tradition, she practiced calligraphy from the age of three. She is also trained in dance and music, and holds an MFA from Mills College. Her research interests include: Japanese aesthetics such as 間 (MA), austerity in emptiness, and sense of seasons; bugaku; and Japanese mythology.