Mizuki Fukumura

Mizuki Fukumura was born in Tokyo, Japan on October 30, 1996. She is a ninth-generation member and known pop singer in Japan. She is also the leader of well known pop group Morning Musume. She was also a former member of Shugo Chara Egg!. In her early years, Fukumura, at a young age of 10, entered a contest conducted by the Kirarin Revolution animated series known as the Kirarin Girl Contest 2006. Fukumura ended up getting a 2nd place finish. She was highly encourage by her mother to audition for Hello! Pro Egg, as she was a fanatic in her early years. She was able to pass and became a member of the Hello! Pro Egg, along with other enthusiasts Akari Takeuchi and Rie Kaneko on June 22, 2008.

Mizuki Fukumura

 

Mizuki Fukumura made her singing and live performance debut at the 2008 Hello! Project Shinjin Kouen 9gatsu “Shibakouen Step!” concert held on September 23 of the same year. Fukura then made her television debut on August 2009 as Amulet Heart in the television show Shugo Chara! Party!. She was added as a second generation member. Fukura then auditioned in 2011 for a spot in Morning Musume, where in she sang “Maji Bomber” as her audition piece. She did not pass the auditions however, as she only made it through the third round. To her complete surprise however, that when the announcements were made by the producer, she was included to be a part of the Morning Musume. She made her Morning Musume debut at the Hello! Project 2011 Winter “Kangei Shinsen Matsuri” concert, where the announcements were also made. “Maji Desu ka Ska!” was the first single released to ever feature Fukumura as a member of Morning Musume. At Tanaka Reina’s concert in 2013, Fukumura was declared as a sub-leader along with Iikubo Haruna of Morning Musume. On March 30, she made an appearance in the opening of the new Hello! Project shop in Akihabara.

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Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki is a Japanese recording artist who has gained popularity in Japan when she debuted in 1999.  She was dubbed as the Empress of J-Pop because she was among the primary proponents of J-Pop not only in the country but also throughout Asia. Her beautiful singing voice has landed her top status in the Oricon Charts where her debut album remained for four weeks, immediately shooting her to fame.

Ayumi Hamasaki, singer and fashion icon

She knew that she needed to continuously reinvent herself and constantly change her image so that the people would not easily get too full of her. Because of her continuous self-improvement, her popularity soared throughout Asia. She was not only popular with her music, her popularity even rose to greater heights when she began entering the world of fashion and modelling. She often lent her songs to advertisements and commercials that increased her exposure to the masses. Her popularity started spreading through China, Singapore then Southeast Asia. As her popularity soared, people watched out for the newest style and trends that she would be setting. She is a fashion icon, landing her covers and appearances in popular fashion magazines and even gaining her the title of Most Fashionable Female Artist by Oricon.

All of the lyrics to her songs were written by no one else but her. This made her music even more impressive and heartfelt and she gained a different kind of respect from the listeners and fans. Furthermore, most of her music are quite relatable to many of the fans and used her music to reach out and let out what she feels in her heart. Her music draws inspiration from her experiences in life, particularly those that she finds difficult to voice out. This is also another reason why she prefers singing and writing in the native language because she could express herself better than through other foreign languages.

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Beni Arashiro, Not Your Ordinary Girl

Beni Arashiro is one of Japan’s most popular pop artists of today. She is a signed artist of Universal Studios Japan with both a solo career and a former membership of the Bishoujo Club 31, an idol group popular in the country. She is most famous for her singles including “Here Alone (2004)” and “Kiss Kiss Kiss”. She is also very famed for her close friendship with another Japanese idol named Crystal Kaye.

BENI, famous Japanese Idol

Born Beni Daniels, she grew up from a multicultural background with an American father and a Japanese mother. Her fluency in both English and Japanese became very advantageous for her in not only singing different kinds of songs but also reaching out to her fans in different parts of the world. She spent 12 years in California, USA before officially migrating back to Japan. She studied in the American School of Japan where she met and made good friends with the idol Crystal Kaye. Both had a love for music and art. Also born from musical parents, she learned piano at a very young age and was deeply exposed to the works of various musical artists from different cultures. Her influences include popular singers such as Namie Amuro, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson.

She started her musical career in 2004 and has been continuously gaining popularity in her decade long career. She has released seven albums with over 20 singles since her debut. Today, she still continues to make beautiful music with plans of releasing another album in the near future.

Other than her musical career, she is also active in a variety of activities. She used to be the ambassador for the NFL in Tokyo. She also worked as a model and face for products such as Kose Visee, Orion beer and many more. Other than that, she also became the heroine in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s play The Beautiful Game, making her a versatile artist.  Even though her popularity and the sales of her album are not as extraordinary as other Japanese Idols, she still has incredible talent. She is consistent and hardworking, making her a role model for many of the youth in Japan.

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The Golden Voice of Miho Fukuhara

The music industry of Japan, just like that of China, Taiwan and South Korea, has been continuously growing over the past years and decades. Jpop idols and groups have been increasing popularity all over the world now that the internet has provided accessibility for non-Japanese listeners. One of the popular Japanese celebrities that have been gaining popularity and continuously challenges herself over the years is Jpop singer Miho Fukuhara.

It was in the 2006 when she debuted in the music industry. Just after two years in the music scene she has already scored on the yearly Japanese Top 100 chart. Aside from her very powerful and velvety voice, she also gained popularity because of her impressively good looks. Anyone listening to her would definitely assess her voice to be very similar to Mariah Carey with an added twist of her own style and techniques. Most of her songs are R&B and pop ballad and has been influenced greatly by her musically inclined family. At a young age she was exposed to different music, songs and artists that have been legends in the music industry because of the wide record collection of her parents.

Album cover for her first album, Rainbow

Though she only debuted in 2006, she was kind of discovered when she joined a local karaoke contest and impressed the judges with her rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Though many music scouts have already invited her, she respectfully declined saying that she wishes to finish high school before she starts her musical career.

The single The Roots, her cover of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, her Because You Loved Me Celine Dion Cover are among her most popular songs. Her debut album was Rainbow which she released in 2008 after a series of singles and covers since her debut in 2006. She has released a total of 13 Singles and eight albums since her debut in 2006 showing a great deal of accomplishments in less than a decade in the industry. Though she is yet to release her latest album for 2014 after being signed by Sweetbox, many of her fans are anticipating new pieces from this soul siren.

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Namie Amuro

Hip Hop and RNB is not a popular musical genre for women in Japan. There are a lot of popular Japanese male artists that perform music through this genre, but there are very few women. The popularity of Hip Hop began in the early 1980s. Even if it is an on-going trend today, Japanese hip hop still tends to be influenced by the old school dance culture. However, the line between hip hop and pop music is frequently blurred because it is one of the most commercially workable mainstream music genres in Japan.

One of the most popular Japanese RNB artists would be Namie Amuro who gained her popularity with her sleek, artistic style and dancing abilities. Though we can’t really call her a diva because of this, she still is a multi-talented artist with her capabilities to perform both RNB and Pop. Because of her many talents and impressive wit it lead her to gaining the title of the Teen Queen or the Queen of Japanese Pop Music. She debuted at the young age of 14 as an idol in the girl group called Super Monkeys. It was only in 1997, when she was performing as a solo artist that she became commercially successful where she was able to produce several million-selling records. Other than that she also became a fashion icon starting a number of trends. However, in the midst of her fame and fortune she put her career on hold due to her marriage and pregnancy.

Namie Amuro

After a year away from the limelight, she returned to the music scene in December 1998 by releasing a single called I have never seen, immediately it reached number 1 on the charts. Again, there were personal events that forced her to once again take a rest from her fame. However, unlike the first one that involved the happiness with starting a new family, this time it was because of a loss. On the day of her second single’s release, her mother was brutally murdered by no one else but her step uncle.

Some time after recovering from this tragic fate, she returned to the limelight once again but this time with a more renewed orientation towards R&B. Seeing that there is not too much promise with this solo R&B career, she decided to join Suite Chic which is a collaborative R&B project. Still she is most recognized from many of her popular songs. Since then, Amuro experienced more ups and downs in her life but she is still more beautiful and as happy as ever.

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AKB48, the Top Selling Japanese Idol group

Normally, fans will hear of girl groups of four to five members that blend their talents together to form an awe-inspiring performance for their fans. However, AKB48 is no other Japanese idol girl group because they originally have 48 members. Yes, you read it right; there are 48 individuals that perform under the Japanese girl group AKB48. In fact, that is where their name was derived from. AKB is from the shortened termed for Akihabara or “Akiba” where the vowels at the middle and end are removed. They also placed a “48” in their name to signify the roster of their members.

What is most interesting about AKB48 and what makes them most different from other Japanese girl groups is the fact that they have their own theatre. Their producer, named Yasushi Akimoto, has conceptualized and created a group that will not only be limited to occasional guesting and concerts that are normally seen in television. He wanted the fans to have the chance of seeing their idols live and choose the dates when they want to see the performances of the group, and so they built their own theatre so that AKB48 will be able to perform on a daily basis. Other than just the performance, they also have handshake events where fans can have a brief opportunity of closely interacting with their idols. Their fan base even reaches shores beyond Japan where fans from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have found their ways on how to buy AKB48 tickets.

Today, there are actually a total of 140 members and knowing the true nature of the group’s performances will explain why there are so many members.  Within AKB48, there are smaller teams which rotate performances so that the girls will not get exhausted from performing every night and at least have a night or two to rest down their voices and their dancing bodies.

Despite performing on a nightly basis, their records and performances are among the highest selling in Japan. In fact, they set a record in 2012 for a whopping 226 million US dollars. This record has even beat some of the most famous Hollywood artists of today. They have set a series of records that proves their performances are really awe-inspiring and amazing. As of March 2014, they have sold more than 30 million records, which landed them a second place in the Most Wanted idol groups in Japan. In 2010, they even reached an achievement that not many artists reach in their careers where they have the first AND second spot for the Top Selling Singles of 2010 for two different singles “Beginner” and “Heavy Rotation”.

Members of AKB48

Members of AKB48

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Namie Amuro

Born on September 20, 1977 in Naja, Okinawa, Japan, Namie Amura is not only known in the Entertainment industry for being a Japanese R&B singer and former actress, but also, she is a fashion icon. She is indeed one versatile artist. Before even talking about her success stories and career life, let us first talk about her personal life and know her better. In this way, we would know who and what inspired her to become an artist and strive to become who she is now.

Amuro, unfortunately, didn’t grow up with a complete family behind her. She was raised solely by her mother Emiko Taira. Amuro didn’t get to spend much time with her father since she was just 4 years old when her parents decided to divorce. Being alone and responsible to raising her child, Taira ventured into various types of work just to be able to provide for her three children. She was once a nursery school employee and a bar hostess. We can say that her family’s situation led her to pursuing a career that she wasn’t totally expecting. She was just 12 years old when she was discovered. She was, at that time, visiting her friend and Masauki Makino, a talent scout, thought that she can really sing. This talent scout wasn’t just a normal employee in an agency; Makino was actually the owner of Okinawa Actors School, which was a known performing arts school. Being discovered by the owner, Amura decided to enroll in the school. Two years passed and she became part of the Super Monkey’s, an idol group that consists of five other girl members.

Admittedly, the success of the group wasn’t instant. It was rather slow that resulted to the need of changing the group’s name. Amuro’s name was incorporated mainly because it was during that time that she was at her peak of popularity. Super Monkey’s then became known as the “Namie Amuro with Super Monkey’s”. Indeed, this helped the group in their aim of getting the trust of the public. Though she was the main talent of the group, Amuro still participated and appeared in various television dramas and small films.

In 1997, Amuro announced her done marriage with Masaharu Maruyama, member of the band TRF. The public was even more surprised because she was, back then, three months pregnant. This great change in Amuro’s life didn’t stop her from continuing her career. Not to mention, before the year ended, she won the Grand Pix Award of the Japan Records Awards again for her first single “Can You Celebrate?”.

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Hikaru Utada

Born on January 19, 1983, Hikaru Utada is a known Japanese American singer, songwriter, arranger, and even producer. We can say that the love for music was innate for this very talented artist, as his parents were as well active in the industry. He is the only child of Teruzane Utada, a record producer, and enka singer Junko Utada, known to for her stage name Keiko Fuji. What makes their family’s relationship more interesting is that Hiraku and her mother used to do recordings together. They even released songs under the band U3, also known as Utada 3.

It was only in 1996 that Hikaru was given her first ever solo project entitled “I’ll be Stronger”. Not only that this was her first project, but also, what makes it more fulfilling for her is that she personally wrote the song. Though, this song wasn’t really known to be made by her and was rather released under the name “Cubic U”. Not to confuse though, this name is just a mathematical reference to her, as she is known to be the third Utada “power”, a pseudonym given to her when she was just starting in the business. Hikaru became known as Cubic U. Holding on to the name, she released her debut single entitled “Close to You”, a cover of The Carpenters’ song. Not long after, she was then given the chance to take another step in her career leading to the release of her debut album “Precious”.

The success story of Utada is something that every artist hopes to experience and achieve. More to her personal life would be her married life. On September 7, 2002, she decided to settle down and marry Kazuaki Kiriya, a photographer and film director. The relationship of these two wasn’t at all instant. Kiriya has been Utada’s senior for almost fifteen years and even directed some of her music videos. Their marriage was something that the public felt so happy about. Unfortunately, the hoped happy ending turned to a depressing divorce. On March 2, 2007, the couple announced the divorce and explained that the reasons behind the separation are personal changes, difference in viewpoints, and lack of communication because of their busy schedules. A lot has happened to the lives of these two public figures. Recently, just last February, Utada announced that she is again engaged and will soon get married.  Now for sure, everyone is again hoping for a happy ending!

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Hatsune Miku

Developed by Crypton Future Media, Hatsune Miku, sometimes referred as Miku Hatsune, is humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application. With the use of Yamaha’s Vocaloid 2 and 3, Saki Fujita’s vocal samples were taken and controlled at a pleasing pitch and tone. Note that Saki Fujita is a known voice actress in Japan. What happens after all samples are obtained? These are then contained in a single phonic which would then create full lyrics and phrases. The synthesizer engine is responsible for the altering of the samples’ pitches with the help of the keyboard style instrument located within the two involved Vocaloid programs.

Standard Miku illustrated by KEI

Hatsune Miku, as stated, was developed by Yamaha, though the marketing aspect was not entirely made possible by them. The marketing of the product was left to the studio that created the Vocaloid itself. This strategy didn’t really entirely removed Yamaha out of the picture because the company still maintained that degree of promotional efforts, making marketing more effective. As for sales, it was initially high, so high that Crypton could not satisfy the demand. The success of this, we may say, pop star technology was just overwhelming. In fact, 3000 sales reservations were made only in the first 12 days of sales. How amazing is this, right?

The success of the device and the undeniable support given to this great invention led to it being developed in 2010. The Hatsune Miku Append was added to Miku. This made the concept much more interesting as it contained a package of six different tones namely soft, sweet, dark or mature, vivid or cheerful, solid or loud, and light or innocent.   3d animations then followed through the developed program MikuMikuDance. This individual/freeware software program resulted to the boom of fan-made and derivative characters that definitely made its existence more high-tech and nonetheless, interesting.

To date, Miku’s popularity remains and is still seen in various anime shows. Miku is in fact part of the manga series where Hatsune is able to explore many possibilities and venture in numerous adventures. Surely, Miku is one invention that will remain wanted and nonetheless, will continuously be developed to make its existence more applicable to the changing interest of people and even culture.

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