Born in Fukushima, the daughter of a karo (chief retainer) of the Aizu Clan. She was sent to the United States to study as one of the first Japanese women to study abroad, together with Umeko Tsuda and others in 1871. During her stay in the United States, Sutematsu obtained a nursing license. She returned to Japan in 1882 and married rikugunkyo(War Minister) Iwao Oyama in 1883. In the so-called Rokumeikan era, she took an active part at the center of the Society. Not only did she serve as a director of the Aikoku Fujinkai (Patriotic Women's Association), but she also participated in social activities including Tokushi Kangokai (Volunteer Nursing Society) of the Red Cross and made efforts to establish and manage the Joshi Eigaku Juku (English School for Women ,later Tsuda College）. Her natural brothers include Army Major General Hiroshi Yamakawa, and Kenjiro Yamakawa, president of the Imperial University of Tokyo.