The sixth child in a family of eleven brothers and sisters, Takaezu was born to Japanese immigrant parents. At age 18 she worked at the Honolulu Hawaii Potter’s Guild, creating identical pieces from press molds. From 1948 to 1951 she studied ceramics at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, then (1951–54) under the noted Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, who became Takaezu’s lifelong mentor. In 1955 Takaezu joined the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s ceramics department. That same year she spent eight months working with master potters in Japan and delving into the philosophical underpinnings of Zen and mingei (folk-craft) ceramics—utilitarian objects prized for their rustic beauty. In 1967 she began teaching at Princeton University. She retired in 1992 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1996. Takaezu’s distinctive art is represented in major collections throughout the world. In 1981 she was voted one of the twelve greatest living potters in a readers’ survey by Ceramics Monthly magazine.