Born and raised in Japan, Yu first came to the US alone at the age of 18 with the plan to return to Japan to go to a medical school. She ended up going to colleges in the US, constantly trying different fields (due to her endless curiosity), i.e. Biochemistory, Women's Studies, Political Science, Math, Writing, Education, and Film Production.
It was when she was still at MIT double-majoring in Math and Women's Studies that Yu started the IDCE program with her mother. The experiences of starting up and running this educational program lead her to go to Harvard to learn more about International relations/affairs/education.
With the IDCE program, she traveled to various parts of the world, but the encounter with an 11 year old boy, Josef, on the street of Zimbabwe became one of her most significant experiences. It also made her want to learn film-making so that she could make films as she continued IDCE. She decided to put a hold on the plan to go for a Doctrate in Education at Harvard, and went into the graduate school in Film Production at the University of Southern California.
While continuing IDCE and making several short films, she also became interested in matters that tie arts and technology together. For example, the narrative use of three-dimensional audio and visual imaging and display technology; the combined use of Motion Capture Technology, internet, and dance, etc.. So, later as a visiting scholar of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, Yu initiated some Art & Technology projects. One of her Art-Tech performances, Hummingbird , which she produced and directed, was an official selection of SIGGRAPH 2003.
Meanwhile, Yu's one-act plays and monologues were performed in Boston and Los Angeles, and her writings and photographs appeared in several publications. She received various awards and honors for her work in different fields. For example, her film script, "Ai Yamahiro," received the Gaia Award from the Moondance International Film Festival. Her one-act play, "When Yoshimi Gets Married," is now an example of MIT OpenCourseWare. Her essay,"Remembering Doc Edgerton," is in the MIT Time Capsule buried during the Inaugural celebration of Charles M. Vest as the 15th MIT president.
In addition, Yu's first 16mm film, "PuRoMiSu" was accepted into film festivals such as John's Hopkin's Film Festival and Texas Film Festival, and won the best picture at the IL Film/Video Festival where her thesis film, "Silver Boxes" also won the best cinematography. "Milk and Honey" which she co-produced won the Cine Eagle Award; "Crystal's Sigh" which was made into a short film from the scenes of her work-in-progress feature film, "Aura, IL," was also accpeted into film festivals and won the prestigious Cine Golden Eagle Award. Here
Yu is currently trying to complete her first feature film, "Aura, IL," which is made from a script whose earlier draft was a semi-finalist at the Moondance International Film Festival. It is taking a long time, but she's not worried. She met Ang Lee, who told her, "It took me 5 years to complete my very first feature."
Yu received BS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.Ed. from Harvard University (where she was the student commencement speaker as the first Japanese student ever to speak at Harvard's graduations) before completing the M.F.A. course work in Film Production at the University of Southern California.