2013 in review

8 Apr

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2012 in review

8 Apr

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dear Akina – Happy 30th Anniversary!

1 May

Today, May 1, 2012, marks the 30th anniversary celebration of Japan’s one and only “utahime” (“diva” in Japanese) – Akina Nakamori.

As mentioned in many of my previous posts, Akina was Japan’s top female singer in the 1980s. She was, and still is, the “Madonna” of Japan – in the sense of changing her image for each song she released. Akina’s legend has influenced many young female artists to this day including: Ayumi Hamasaki, Hitotoyo, Rimi Natsukawa, Kumi Koda and the list goes on.

Akina has a very special place in my heart as she was the first Japanese idol/artist that I listened to completely in real time back in the 1980s. She was one of the reasons why I became interested in Japan and the Japanese language.

Akina has been taking a rest from the entertainment industry due to health reasons as of October 2010. It’s been a year and a half since her fans have heard from her; however, Akina has managed to send a message through her fan club newsletter earlier in the year, and to commemorate her 30 year anniversary, Universal Music has released “THE BEST TEN AKINA NAKAMORI PREMIUM BOX”.

The Best Ten Akina Nakamori Premium Box

30th Anniversary DVD “The Best Ten Akina Nakamori Premium Box”

THE BEST TEN was a music television program which ran from 1978 to 1989 and counted down the singles rankings each week. This was prior to Japanese artists making promotional videos to promote their songs. The way J-pop fans could tune into see their favorite singers would be by watching this program.

Although Akina’s debut single “Slowmotion” did not chart on the program, her follow-up song “Shojo A” (translated in English as: Girl “A”) debuted at No. 9 on September 16, 1982. She hit the top of the Best Ten charts with her third single “Second Love” which took the top spot for a record 8 consecutive weeks.

This was only the beginning for Akina as she set record after record on the television program including: No. 1 artist with the most no. 1 songs in the history of the Best Ten (17 songs) and No. 1 artist with the most weeks at No. 1 in the history of the Best Ten (69 weeks).

The DVD box is the perfect way to celebrate the music of this living legend and watch her transformation from a young female idol to artist extraordinaire.

HAPPY 30TH ANNIVERSARY, AKINA NAKAMORI! YOU ARE THE LEGEND OF DIVA!

The Best Ten Akina Nakamori Premium Box

The Best Ten Akina Nakamori Premium Box (Amazon.com)

2011 in review

2 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Messages to the children in Tohoku from Tokyo Midtown

23 Dec

To the children in Tohoku affected by the earthquake – messages from children in Tokyo strung from the bamboo branches as a part of the Christmas illuminations at Tokyo Midtown. You are always in our hearts. May the heavens watch over you.

Santa Message No. 2

"Boku no bun, Tohoku no ko ni okuttene" (translated as "Please bring my share of the presents to the children in Tohoku" - addressed to Santa)

Santa Message No. 1

"Santa-san, hizaichi keiyu de ii karane" (translated as "Santa, please start your journey from the disaster areas first.")

Oh Christmas tree – illuminations in Tokyo 2011

22 Dec

Only 3 more days until Christmas, my favorite holiday in the year. I’m not going to say too much in this post other than I hope you enjoy the pics of the lights around Tokyo. Here are a few…

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills

Ebisu Garden Place

Ebisu Garden Place

Shiodome Sumitomo Building

Shiodome Sumitomo Building

Southern Terrace in Shinjuku

Southern Terrace in Shinjuku

Caretta Shiodome

Caretta Shiodome

Tokyo Midtown

Tokyo Midtown

Tokyo Midtown Entrance from Roppongi

Tokyo Midtown Entrance Side from Roppongi

 

Japanese Singer 2011

25 Nov

Last night, I went to see the Ken Hirai Live Tour 2011 JAPANESE SINGER at Saitama Super Arena with a dear friend of mine.

This marked the fifth time I’ve seen Ken Hirai perform live – and you know what? He NEVER disappoints. The show was AMAZING! Ken Hirai is definitely “THE” Japanese male singer of this day and age. His vocals were cool and crisp – I swear, out of all the concerts I’ve been to, the vocal levels for Ken Hirai’s are the best. The songs were soulful, emotional, touching, fun,…and the feelings go on and on. You truly get your money’s worth and I’m grateful to have been a fan of his all these years.

Japanese Singer

Ken Hirai Live Tour 2011 JAPANESE SINGER

Ken Hirai originally hails from Mie Prefecture and paid his dues during his university years singing at live houses in the Yokohama area. There he learned different music styles including R&B and soul. Ken submitted a homemade music video to Sony Music and successfully landed a recording contract with them in 1993. His first release was in 1995 with the song “Precious Junk” which managed to peak at No. 50 on the Oricon charts. However, immediate success eluded him. Ken’s next few singles failed to chart. He was on the verge of losing his contract in 2000 with Sony Music when Ken had his first major breakthrough hit with “Rakuen” (translated as “Paradise”). It peaked at No. 7 on the Oricon charts and sold 600,000 copies in Japan.

“Rakuen” opened the doors for Ken and he churned out hit after hit. He scored his first No. 1 single in 2002 with the cover of the standard “My Grandfather’s Clock” by Henry Clay work, re-named “Ookina Furudokei”. Ken performed the song live from the actual location of the clock in Massachusetts, USA, on the annual NHK music show “Kohaku Utagassen” at the end of the year.

His biggest hit to date is “Hitomi Wo Tojite” (translated as “Close Your Eyes”) in 2004. The song peaked at No. 2 on the weekly charts, but was the No. 1 of 2004 selling over a million copies. The song is from the movie “Sekai No Chushin De, Ai Wo Sakebu” (translated as “I’ll Shout for Love from the Center of the World”) and is based on the premise of a first love lost tragically through death. Every time I hear Ken perform this song, it just tugs at my heart strings. A lot of his ballads do. And ballads are his forte.

This concert showcased tracks from Ken Hirai’s most recent album “Japanese Singer” with his major hits including “KISS OF LIFE”, “POP STAR”, and “Aika (Elegy)”. With one note, he can make your heart soar…and with one lyrical phrase, he can break your heart. It was magic. All of the ballads deeply moved me, but the song that really did it was the single “Boku Wa Kimi Ni Koi Wo Suru” (translated as “I Will Fall In Love With You”) released in 2009. You can see a live performance of it from 2009 below, but this song (which happened to be the final one before the encore) just took me in. Simply amazing.

I managed to score invitation tickets to the show, which I gave to two of my friends and in turn, they got me Ken Lollipops (laugh)! Thanks ladies!

Ken Candy

One of the concert goods from the live tour: Ken Hirai Lollipops!

The following are some of my other favorite songs from Ken Hirai: “LIFE is…〜Another Story〜” (2003), “Kimi Wa Tomodachi” (translated as “You Are My Friend” – 2004), “POP STAR” (2004), and “Omoi Ga Kasanaru Sono Mae Ni” (translated as “Before Our Thoughts Become One” – 2005)

In closing, Ken has won numerous accolades over his 17-year career including numerous MTV Video Music Awards and Gold Disk Awards. Thank you for sharing your gift with us – may your voice grace us for many, many, many years to come!