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Singer Minako Honda, who died in 2005 at the age of 38, was not your average idol singer. As a girl she dreamed of becoming an enka (Japanese ballad) star, but her agency didn’t have any connection to enka. Since she was cute they sold her as a pop singer, and for a while she was successful as a saucy idol, but the careers of such singers are often short.

Once she realized this, Honda took the initiative and started auditioning for stage musicals. She won the coveted lead in the Japanese version of “Miss Saigon,” and from there starred in other major productions. She also crossed over into classical music.

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