Shinobu was born on December 28, 1972 in Kyoto. She is the firstborn daughter in an unbroken line of stage family; her father is Kikugoro Onoe, a Kabuki actor and also designated a living national treasure; her mother is actress Sumiko Fuji; her younger brother is a Kabuki actor Kikunosuke Onoe. While at Aoyama High School, Shinobu made her debut in TV drama “Shijyou no Tabibito” (NHK) in 1989. In 1992, she became an understudy of acting group, Bungakuza, after receiving advice from the late Kiwako Taichi. She made her first theatrical debut in the following year in “Koi to Kamen to Carnival” which directed by Nobuhiro Nishikawa. Shinobu continued theatrical works and appeared in a number of plays. After Bungakuza in 1996, she appeared in “Hanaoka Seishu no Tsuma” which brought her the breakthrough actress award at the Bunka-choGeijyutsuAwards. She starred in Caterpillar which earned her recognition from the 2010 APSA Jury who awarded her the Jury Grand Prize for her outstanding performance in the film – the first time in APSA’s history that this award has been given to an actor or actress.