Fans of Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro, who has a broad fan base across Asia, turned up the heat in Okinawa Prefecture on Saturday, as the diva will deliver her final stage performance in Ginowan city.
Amuro — who has achieved milestones in Japan’s pop music scene since the 1990s as a singing and dancing act as well as a fashion icon — chose her home prefecture for her farewell performance before retiring on Sunday.
In Naha, capital of Okinawa, banners and posters showing photos of Amuro and expressing gratitude to the star were put up at the city hall, bank and newspaper office. Fans from across the country posed in front of a big vertical poster that read «Okinawa (heart mark) Amuro.»
A resident of Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, Junichi Shiba said, «I wanted to be as close as possible» to where Amuro is. The 27-year-old said, «When I was sick and having a tough time, I was uplifted by her songs.»
Coming all the way from Taipei, Jasmine Chin, 40, said while she did not have a ticket to the concert, she would go near the venue.
Okinawan bands Begin and Mongol800, singer Ken Hirai and Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai, with whom Amuro has collaborated, are also on the lineup.
Amuro, 40, surprised fans last September when she announced she would 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 her birthday on Sept. 20.
Debuting on Sept. 16, 1992 as a member of the all-girls group Super Monkey’s, Amuro later turned solo and became one of the nation’s leading singers. She has dominated the music charts with a string of megahits such as «Can You Celebrate?,» «Chase the Chance» and «Sweet 19 Blues.»
She also won music awards including the prestigious Japan Record Award for two years in a row. Amuro sang «Never End» at a welcome reception for leaders of the then Group of Eight nations at their 2000 summit in Okinawa, and her song «Hero» was the NHK theme song for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Amuro created the «Amuraa» phenomenon in the mid-1990s in which young girls and women copied her signature look of miniskirt and high-heeled platform boots with dyed brown hair, thin-arched eyebrows and a deep tan.
At age 20 — at the peak of her career — Amuro made a surprise announcement of her pregnancy and marriage. She married in 1997 to a member of Japanese pop group TRF and gave birth to a son in May 1998. She made a comeback on NHK’s year-end music show in December that year after taking a year-long maternity and childcare leave.
All — Kyodo News+