As a photographer, filmmaker and actress living in New York City during a global pandemic, Yuko Torihara spent most of last year reassessing her entire value system.

"I really focused on my mental and physical health," she tells The Japan Times via video chat from her Manhattan apartment. "I changed the way I ate, how I communicated with people, the way I consumed the news on TV." It was, she says, a way of surviving a strange and terrible time.

When the pandemic hit, Torihara could have returned to Tokyo where her parents lived. She was born in Tokyo, but spent her early years moving between Japan, the United States and England, joining the Mugensha Theatre Company in Tokyo at age 15 before graduating from a high school in London and getting her bachelor's degree in comparative literature and literary theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Torihara moved to New York 15 years ago, and this is the longest time she has ever stayed in one place.