Active since the early 1980s, shamisen player and vocalist Yumiko Tanaka is one of the few luminaries of traditional Japanese music who has also made a indelible impact on the world of contemporary music, theater and the avant-grade. In 2009, she became the general holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property as a member of Gidayu-bushi Preservation Society.
Tanaka's credits range from performing with orchestras, such as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, to collaborating with pioneers in the world of jazz and experimental improvisation, including Elliott Sharp, Otomo Yoshihide, John Zorn, Sakata Akira, Haino Keiji, John Russell, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Yoshida Tatsuya, Sabu Toyozumi, Aki Onda and conductor Butch Morris.
As a soloist, Tanaka has toured ever corner of the globe, while also participating in many contemporary music groups, such as Pro Musica Nipponia, ITO and Otomo Yoshihide's band, Ground Zero. She has performed in several notable venues, including the Avery Fisher and Carnegie Halls, and has received accolades in the New York Times and awards to numerous to mention.
Tanaka has a Master's degree in musicology from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music and is currently an associate professor at the Hyogo University of Teacher Education, lecturing on Japanese music history and teaching shamisen and koto to both undergraduate and graduate students.