Makoto Fujimura was born in 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts. Educated bicultural between the United States and Japan, Fujimura graduated from Bucknell University in 1983 and received an M.F.A. from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music as a National Scholar in Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) in 1989. His thesis painting was purchased by the university and he was invited to study in the Post–M.F.A. lineage program, a first for an outsider to this prestigious traditional program. During his years in the program, he experienced "a transfer of allegiance from art to Christ." His book River Grace traces his journey of mastering Nihonga technique, using carefully stone-ground minerals including azurite, malachite, and cinnabar, along with his deep wrestling with art and faith issues.
In 1992 he became the youngest artist ever to have had a piece acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. Public collections include The Saint Louis Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, and the Time Warner / AOL / CNN building in Hong Kong. His paintings are represented by Dillon Gallery in New York and in Tokyo.
Fujimura was appointed to the National Council on the Arts, a six-year presidential appointment, in 2003. WORLD magazine honored him as its Daniel of the Year in 2005.
In 1990 Fujimura founded The International Arts Movement, an arts advocacy organization that wrestles with the deep questions of art, faith, and humanity. Fujimura has served as an elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church as well as a founding elder at The Village Church, both Presbyterian Church in America congregations in New York City. His writings on art and faith issues have appeared in Image Journal , Books and Culture , American Arts Quarterly , and WORLD magazine.