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Japanese Pop Icon Amuro Namie to Retire Next Year (News)

Tokyo, Sept. 20 (Jiji Press)—Japanese pop icon Amuro Namie said Wednesday that she will retire from the world of show business in September next year. "I would like to write about something that I have carried in my mind and decided on the twenty-fifth anniversary of my debut," the 40-year-old singer, who celebrated her milestone anniversary on Saturday, wrote in her blog and indicated her inte…
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Singer Utada Hikaru Back in the Charts After Extended HiatusUno Koremasa

Utada Hikaru’s new album Fantôme, the singer’s first in close to a decade, has hovered near the top of the Japanese music charts since its release in September 2016. CD and digital sales of the album have topped one million, a mark it reached in January. Many in the industry consider this accomplishment par for the course for Utada, who set the sales record in Japan with her 1999 debut album Fir…
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SMAP: How a Boy Band Became a National InstitutionUno Koremasa

After 28 years of activity, the popular group SMAP is to break up at the end of this year. They have played a unique role in the Japanese entertainment industry, becoming national icons along the way.
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Bending Metal: Marty Friedman Takes on the Babymetal Invasion

Japanese idol group Babymetal have stormed onto the world heavy metal scene with a unique brand of music that combines established metal riffs and high-octane performances with anthems on such everyday themes as chocolate. Legendary heavy metal guitarist and long-time resident of Japan Marty Friedman argues that, love or hate them, the trio is giving the long-established genre a needed shakeup.
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How Can Anime Build on its Past Success?Sakurai Takamasa

“Anime” has become a common term worldwide among the younger generation raised on Japanese animation and these fans have come to expect a lot from anime produced in Japan. This article looks at the challenges ahead for the anime industry as it seeks to meet those expectations.
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Hashimoto Kanna and the 40-Plus Consumers of Idol CultureUno Tsunehiro

I have been asked by Nippon.com to write about Hashimoto Kanna, a 15-year-old sensation who has been described as a “once-in-a-millennium idol,” and the somewhat surprising phenomenon of older fans—primarily those in their forties—who are supporting Japan’s idol culture today. To be quite honest, I found the choice of topic rather peculiar. Why Hashimoto Kanna? And why 40-plus devotees? As an e…
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AKB48: The Return of Idol Music and the Rise of the SuperfanIan Martin

Idol pop phenomenon AKB48 hit the news in two very different ways over the past few months. The first was a vicious and unexpected attack on group members Kawaei Rina and Iriyama Anna at a May 25 meet-and-greet event in Iwate Prefecture by a man wielding a 50-centimeter saw. The second was the altogether more choreographed and celebratory spectacle of the group’s annual “election,” which determine…
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Fuji Rock: A World of Music On DisplayIan Martin

A divide runs through the music business in Japan. It’s most obviously apparent in record stores where locally produced “J-Pop” and overseas music are strictly separated, often to the point of being placed on different floors, but it also exists in the live music arena, where overseas touring bands rarely get the chance to interact with the local music scene and the fan bases of domestic and forei…
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Sharing Japan with the WorldWatanabe Hirotaka

Japan’s pop culture has opened the door to worldwide appreciation of all of its rich culture. As culture becomes a driving force in both the country’s international image and its economy, the concept of cultural diplomacy and the creation of a system for its expression are more vital than ever.
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