A poet and an educator. She was born HIRAO Seki in 1854 into a samurai family of the Iwamura clan in Mino. In 1872 she became a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shoken, who gave her the name Utako. In 1879 she left the Imperial Household to marry SHIMODA Takeo and in 1881 opened Toyojo-juku—a private school for the education of upper-class women. In 1885 she served as a professor and the first dean of Kazoku jogakko, the forerunner of Joshi gakushuin. In 1899 she founded and served as president of Jissen jogakko, which later became Jissen Women’s University. In 1898 she served as president of the Teikoku fujin kyokai (imperial women’s association) and later she became president of the Aikoku fujin-kai (patriotic women’s association). She wrote numerous textbooks and articles on educational subjects.