Born in 1970 in Kobe, Japan, Miwa started out early on the piano taking classical lessons (as well as voice lessons) from age four. After high school, she attended the Osaka College of Music where she first met and studied with jazz organist/pianist Minoru Ozone, father of noted pianist Makoto Ozone. Under Ozone's guidance she became increasingly interested in jazz and gained valuable experience working at his Kobe-based nightclub and music school. After the 1995 Kobe earthquake destroyed Ozone's establishments, Miwa enrolled at Japan's Koyo Conservatory of Music where she focused full-time on jazz. The following year, she won a scholarship to Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, she studied jazz theory and performance, and developed a lasting creative partnership with vocalist and teacher Kevin Mahogany.
Upon graduating college in 1999, Miwa joined the Berklee faculty and continued to work alongside Mahogany (until his death in 2017). She also began playing locally, leading her own trio and working as the pianist in the house band at Cambridge's Ryles Jazz Club. Her first album as a leader, In the Mist of Time, was released in Japan on the Tokuma label in 2001. It found her working with drummer Scott Goulding, bassist Massimo Biolcati, and tenor saxophonist Tim Mayer. Her second album, 2003's Fadeless Flower, found her paring down to a trio with Goulding and bassist Greg Loughman.
Along with studio sessions, Miwa has kept a busy live schedule, appearing regularly at festivals and New York's Blue Note Jazz Club. She has performed with an array of luminaries, including George Garzone, Sheila Jordan, Jerry Bergonzi, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, and others. In 2005, she released another trio effort, Canopy of Stars, which again found her working with Goulding, as well as bassists Biolcati and Bronislaw Suchanek. The concert album Live at Scullers Jazz Club appeared in 2011, followed in 2017 by the studio effort Pathways. In 2019, she was named the Boston Music Awards Jazz Artist of the Year, as well as the Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll winner. She issued her fifth trio album, Keep Talkin', the same year. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi