Tokoha Matsuda was born in Hokkaido, and grew up in Kiryu, in the prefecture of Gunma, Japan. She studied behavioral science, focusing on sociology, anthropology, and social psychology, and earned a BA at Hokkaido University in Sapporo. Her current artistic interests such as social structure, intercultural communication, and feminism originated at that time. While engaged with her academic curriculum, she had a great interest in art and pursued drawing and painting on her own.
After graduating, she joined a large manufacturer as a marketing research specialist in Tokyo, and studied art at several classes. She displayed her works at group exhibitions. It was the economic “bubble” era in 1980s Japan. During this period, with its materialistic frenzy, Matsuda experienced a sense of emptiness. She began to question her role in the corporate environment. While struggling, she met the realist artist Kiyoko Kai and Kai’s mentor, the abstract artist Toyoharu Tasa. The encounter with them and her decision to enroll in Kai’s drawing workshop were milestones marking a change in her life. She became aware of her strong desire to create art.
In 1990, Matsuda came to the United States, seeking to continue her art study and develop her career as an artist. She attended the Art Students League of New York for a number of years, where she studied drawing, painting, and printmaking. Later, she studied at Hunter College, the City College of New York, earning a BA in studio art and an MFA in graphic art.
During her involvement in the MFA program at Hunter, she explored her artistic ideas using different media such as photography, photo-based printmaking, and digitally generated methods, as opposed to her earlier representational work in the human figure, still life, and landscape, which had been mainly in oil. Her MFA work marked an expansion of her realism and figurative art into new forms. In her recent work, she has concentrated mainly on printmaking and mixed media.
She has had one-person shows in New York at Nexus Gallery in 1998, at the Riverdale YM-YWHA Art Gallery in 2004, and at Buzzer Thirty in 2006. Also, she had solo exhibitions in Japan at Ginza Takekawa Gallery in both 2001 and 2005 and at Gallery Ginza Himawari in 2017. She has been included in many group exhibitions in the United States, Japan, and other countries. From 1996 to 1999, she was represented by Chinoh Art Gallery, New York, and she has been represented by The Old Print Shop, New York, since 2006. She has also displayed at many art fairs. Her works are in numerous private and corporate collections including the New York Public Library, Syracuse University, and the Art Students League of New York.
Matsuda is currently President of the Japanese Artists Association of New York, Inc. (JAANY) and a council member for the Society of American Graphic Artists (SAGA). Also, she is a member of the Boston Printmakers and the National Association of Women Artists, Inc. (NAWA), by which she was awarded the NAWA Medal of Honor at the 2016 Annual Exhibition.