A hotline to the gods! Kagura is a thousand-year-old form of Japanese Shinto sacred music and dance, accompanying the chanting of myths; the word “kagura” can be translated as “god-entertainment”. Shigeo Tanaka was a master of the yumi (bow), a single-string percussion instrument – a true bow: arrows are fired at the end of each ceremony to fend off evil spirits. The instrument is difficult to play, to draw out the proper sound and maintain the rhythm. Yumi-kagura is the oldest of all the various forms of Kagura. The Tanaka family, based in rural Jōge-cho, Hiroshima prefecture, has passed down this Yumi-kagura tradition for hundreds of years, to this day with Shigeo’s daughter Ritsuko. The Jōge-cho Yumi-kagura, which prays for family well-being, bountiful crops and good fortune, was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1971. The piece featured here, “Takusa-saimon”, based on the myth “Ama no iwato” (The Rocky Celestial Cave), is mesmeric, reaching back across ages to the time before time, with Tanaka’s voice and yumi, accompanied by flute and metal percussion, drawing us closer to the primal activities of the gods, tapping into the deep root of forever. Previously available only on an obscure 1990 cassette, Yumi-kagura is the first collaborative release by EM Records and Riyo Mountains, a Japanese folk song research team. The CD features a bonus track: “Inaga-hachiman jinja Yumi-kagura hōnō” recorded in 2016 by Ritsuko Tanaka.