After graduating from high school in Japan, Yoko Layer modeled and acted for several magazines, as well as television and theater companies. She later graduated from Tokyo Gakugei University and then began to study the Stanislavsky system from Russian director Leonid Anisimov. She has since performed in Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, “The Seagull” and Gorky’s “The Lower Depths”. She began studying Noh in 2000, and, in 2004, she became an apprentice on the professional track with the Umewaka Rokuro branch of the Kanze school. She also worked with her husband Paul in Seattle where they co-founded the Seattle Novyi Theatre Company and performed “The Seagull” and “Uncle Vanya” in repertory, and later “The Proposal” in the International Chekhov Festival in Tokyo. In 2007 she performed with Theatre Nohgaku in the chorus of “Crazy Jane” for TN’s Pacific Northwest tour. In 2010 she became a shihan (instructor) in the Kanze school of Noh. In 2012 she performed “Hagoromo“as a leading role for the first time. Now Yoko is performing in Noh theater, and teaching Noh theater to beginner students in private classes.
Yoko received the 2018 Blue Polaris New Person in Fine Arts Award.