various minor edits
Irina Yamashita was born in Kasama, Japan, on May 22, 1857. As a teenager she moved to Edo (Tokyo) to learn the art of traditional Japanese woodblock printing (''Ukiyo-e'') as an understudy at various studios. In 1877, she entered the newly established National Academy for Fine Arts and studied Western painting. Through a friend, Varvara (Barbara) Yamamuro, at the institute, she met Archimandrite Nicholas and became interested in Orthodox Christianity. In 1878, she was [[baptism|baptized]] an Orthodox Christian. Noting her talent as an artist, Bp. Nicholas, in 1880, arranged for her to study iconography in Russia for five years. At that time, her professor at the National Academy, Antonio Fontanesi stepped down and went back to Italy, and she was losing interest in studying at the academy. Quitting the National Academy, she
went to Russia by Bp. Nicholas' s arrangement and studied at the Novodevichy Resurrection Monastery for women in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 1881 to 1883. In St. Petersburg, he had opportunities to visit Museum of Hermitage and impressed Western style paintings, including Raphael Santio. On the other hand, she had difficulties to have a sympathy toward Byzantine style icons and sometimes even expressed her frustration. In 1883 Bp. Nicholas called back her to Japan in the midst of planned schedule.
Over the ensuing years, Irina produced many [[icon]]s and other religious works and illustrations for the Japanese Orthodox Mission. Her talent and devotion to her occupation was respected among faithfuls. In 1891 she depicted an icon of Theotokos as gift from the church of Japan to the Russian Crown Prince Nicholas, the future [[Nicholas II of Russia]] who visited Japan in that year.