Mira Nakashima was born in 1942 in Seattle, Washington. When Mira was six months old, during World War II, she was sent alongside her parents to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. During their imprisonment, her father George learned woodworking under master carpenter Gentaro Hikogawa. After several years they were freed and relocated to New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Mira was interested in studying music or languages, but her father urged her to follow in his footsteps and study Architecture. She attended Harvard University and received a Bachelors of Art degree. She went on to receive a master's degree in Architecture from Waseda University in Tokyo.