K-pop, Mandopop and other Asian pop

Japanese pop star Namie Amuro gives final performance after 26 years

Her performances as both a singer and dancer captivated fans in Japan and elsewhere in Asia

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 September, 2018, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 September, 2018, 10:21pm

Fans across Japan flocked on Sunday to events paying tribute to Namie Amuro, a Japanese pop singer famous across Asia, marking the day she will step out of the spotlight.

In her home prefecture of Okinawa, southern Japan, thousands of fans gathered in Ginowan to attend events commemorating the end of the 40-year-old diva’s career, including a fireworks show. Amuro gave her last live stage performance with other artists in the city on Saturday night.

The music and fashion icon stunned fans last September by saying she planned to quit showbiz.

The announcement on her website came just days after she marked her 25th anniversary as a performer.

“I could not have lasted 25 years without your support, for which I am eternally grateful,” she wrote last year on September 20, her birthday.

Since then, fans have been visiting Amuro-related locations around the country in places such as Tokyo and Okinawa, some on a dedicated bus that travelled across the country.

Debuting on September 16, 1992, as a member of the all-girl group Super Monkey’s, Amaro went on to dominate the charts as a solo artist with a string of megahits such as Can You Celebrate? and Chase the Chance.

With danceable tunes such as Body Feels Exit, and Don’t Wanna Cry and ballads including Sweet 19 Blues, Amuro was a Japanese pop music trailblazer.

With her signature getup of a miniskirt and high-heeled platform boots with dyed brown hair, thin-arched eyebrows and a deep tan, a teenage Amuro created a phenomenon in the mid-1990s with young girls and women copying her fashion, hairstyle and make-up.

As a measure of her enduring popularity, Amuro produced albums selling over a million copies at various points across her career – when she was in her teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s – with the last achieved by a CD of past hits called “Finally”.

Her album “Sweet 19 Blues” sold three million copies.

Her final concert tour, which began in February, has drawn about 750,000 fans, a record for a solo artist on a single music tour in Japan. Her tour dates also included stops in China’s Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan.

After appearing less on television in recent years, concerts were virtually the only place for fans to get a glimpse of their idol.