Gaye Rowley was born and brought up in Australia. She first went to Japan in 1978, when she spent a year as a high school exchange student in Gifu, central Honshu, living with Japanese families and attending St Mary’s Convent, a Spanish-Japanese mission school. This was the first of many years spent in the lively and enlightening company of Japanese women.

Following her return to Australia, Gaye studied Japanese language and literature at the Australian National University in Canberra, graduating in 1984 from the Faculty of Asian Studies with a B.A. (Hons.) in Asian Studies. She has also studied at the all-women Tsuda College, founded in 1900 by Tsuda Ume, one of the first Japanese women to study abroad in the nineteenth century; at Japan Women’s University (M.A., 1987), where Hiratsuka Raichō, founder of the feminist Bluestockings group, had been a student; and at Newnham College and the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Cambridge (Ph.D., 1995). She taught Japanese language and literature full-time at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and part-time at the University of London, SOAS, before returning to Japan in 2000.

Currently she teaches English and Japanese literature in the School of Law and the Global Education Center at Waseda University, and is Associate Director of the Waseda University Library and Head of the Waseda ballet circle Ciel. Gaye lives in Tokyo with her husband, the scholar Thomas Harper.

In Kagurazaka, one of Tokyo's last remaining geisha districts. Photo by Julia Borossa