Akiko Yano was born in Tokyo and raised in Aomori, Japan. She began playing piano at the young age of three and demonstrated promising talent. When she was only fifteen, Akiko moved to Tokyo on her own and entered into Aoyama Gakuin High School where she pursued her musical career. She later began performing in jazz clubs where her masterful skill at the piano brought her popularity among other musicians. Akiko joined a band with roots in Tin Pan Alley.
Akiko recorded her debut album, Japanese Girl, primarily in Los Angeles with Lowell George and Little Feat. When it was released in 1976 many reputed her to be a "girl with a musical wonder."
She then began collaborating with Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). They continued to play on her next recording projects and invited Akiko to join them on two of their worldwide tours. Akiko expanded her musical collaborations with YMO on her subsequent CD releases. Akiko continued to release CDs joined by JAPAN and Pat Metheny and has performed on albums by Thomas Dolby and other artists. In 1990 Akiko relocated to New York where she collaborated and toured with some of the world's most renowned musicians including The Chieftains, Toninho Horta and Jeff Bova on his project THE HAMMONDS.
August 2007 marked her second debut as yanokami a pop unit with rei harakami, an electronic musician and sought-after producer. In March 2008, they released yanokamick an English version of their debut album, and appeared at Mosaic Music Festival in Singapore.
To date, Akiko has released 27 original albums, of which 3 albums were released by Nonesuch Records: AKIKO YANO, a compilation album selected by Bob Hurwitz and John Zorn (1990), LOVE LIFE (1993) and PIANO NIGHTLY (1996). In October 2008, her 27th original album akiko was released. The album was produced by Grammy-Award winning producer, T Bone Burnett and recorded in Los Angeles, California.