Yamazaki earned a Master of Engineering degree majored in Aerospace Engineering from University of Tokyo in 1996, then started working for current Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). In 1999, she was selected as an astronaut candidate and was qualified as a Soyuz-TMA Flight Engineer in 2004 and NASA Mission Specialist in 2006. On April 5, 2010 Yamazaki was onboard Space Shuttle Discovery on the crew of STS-131, an assembly & resupply mission to the International Space Station.
After retiring from JAXA in 2011, Yamazaki has been serving as a member of Japan Space Policy Committee of Cabinet Office, and devoting herself to space education as an adviser of Young Astronaut Club and a chairperson of “Sorajo (women in aerospace)” under Japanese Rocket Society. Yamazaki co-founded Space Port Japan Association in 2018 and is serving as its representative director. Yamazaki also joined in Council of the Earthshot Prize in 2020 to inspire a decade of action to repair the planet.