She holds a B.A. in economics from Keio University in Tokyo. In 1979 she began a concert series of her music in Tokyo. She has lived in New York City since 1986, after having been awarded a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council.
Torikai has composed for both Western and Japanese instruments, as well as electronic music. Her works have been performed in Japan, China, Mongolia, France, Germany, Hungary, and the United States. She has received commissions from the Japan National Theater, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, the City of Los Angeles, the Modern Art Sextet (Berlin), the Continuum Ensemble (New York), the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, and the Kronos Quartet. Her recent album A UN features a 75-minute work for 40 Japanese Buddhist monks singing in the shōmyō style of Buddhist chant. Her earlier CD GO WHERE? was recorded at IRCAM in Paris. She has also written an opera, entitled Red Beads.