Funakoshi Yasutake was born in 1912 in Ninohe, Iwate. At Morioka Middle School he was in the same grade as future painter Matsumoto Shunsuke.
In 1934 he entered the sculpture course at Tokyo Fine Arts School. In 1939 he participated in the forming of a sculpture division of the Shin Seisakuha Kyokai and became a member. It was at this time that he began marble sculpture. He became one of the forerunners of stone sculpture, and his sculpture entitled Azalea from the fourteenth Shin Seisakuha Kyokai Exhibition in 1950 was bought by the Ministry of Education. In 1941 he opened a joint exhibit with Matsumoto Shunsuke in Morioka. The friendship between the two continued until Matsumoto's death in 1948.
In 1950 Funakoshi was Christened at Morioka Catholic Church. He won the fifth Takamura Kotaro Prize for his work, The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki, begun in 1958 and completed in 1962. In 1972 he won the Nakahara Teijiro Prize for Hara-no-Jo(Christian Samurai). This sculpture was originally Funakoshi's first bust figure, based on the image he got from the ruins of the Hara castle on the site of the Shimabara Rebellion, which he then expanded into a full figure. The sculpture was sent the same year to the Vatican in Rome, and Funakoshi received great honors from the Pope for his work.
In 1967 he became professor at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and the following year completed Tatsuko in Tazawako and Damian of Molokai Island the next year.
Funakoshi received the Hasegawa Hitoshi Memorial Prize for Spring which was installed at the Heimai Bridge in Kushiro in 1977. In 1978 he received the Minister of Education Award for Arts. In 1980 he retired from his position at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and in the following year became professor at Tama Art University. He retired from that post in 1983 and became honorary professor at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986. In the following year (1987), he fell sick with a cerebral infarction, but after being released from the hospital he began drawing and sculpting with his left hand. In 1999 he was selected as a Person of Cultural Merits.
On February 5th, 2002, Funakoshi died of multiple organ failure at his home in Tokyo at the age of 89.