• Kyodo


With about half a month left before the Sept. 16 retirement of pop singer Namie Amuro, a video recording of her last tour, both on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, hit the stores Wednesday, having first drawn more than 1.1 million pre-orders on the internet.

Together with orders from sales at outlets, “namie amuro Final Tour 2018 Finally” has already sold more than 1.7 million copies, which music firms say makes it the first concert video to eclipse the 1 million mark in Japan.

About 20 people lined up to buy the DVD in front of a Tsutaya music shop in Tokyo’s Shibuya district before the opening of the store. The first floor was filled with posters of Amuro, who has a strong fan base in Asia. Many fans wrote farewell messages for the music diva on a board there.

“(Amuro) cheers me up whenever I am depressed. I’d like to support her decision to retire, but will surely miss her,” said Rie Matsunaga, 28, who came to the shop from Oita Prefecture.

Her friend, Honami Mitsunaga, 24, from Fukuoka wrote on the board, “I love you.”

A 40-year-old woman who also came to Shibuya to buy the DVD said Amuro “will always be with us in our hearts even after her retirement. I wish her happiness in the next chapter of her life. She is my role model.”

Amuro, 40, surprised fans last September by suddenly announcing on her website that she would quit showbiz on Sept. 16, 2018. The announcement came after she marked the 25th anniversary of her music career.

Debuting in 1992, Amuro became one of the country’s leading stars with a string of hits including “Chase the Chance,” “Body Feels Exit,” “Sweet 19 Blues,” and “Can You Celebrate?”

Clad in a miniskirt, thick-soled boots and with her hair dyed brown, Amuro also became a fashion icon, creating a phenomenon dubbed “Amuraa” in the 1990s, with many young girls and women copying her fashion, hairstyle and makeup.

A CD of her past hits released after the retirement announcement has sold around 2.27 million copies, and her final tour, which began in February, has drawn about 750,000 fans in Japan alone — a record for a solo artist.

More than 300,000 people have visited exhibitions featuring Amuro’s stage outfits held in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa. The singer will perform her last concert on Sept. 15 in Okinawa, where she was born and raised.

Despite the spread of the internet and social networking services, Amuro has shunned exposure of her private life and seldom appears on talk shows.

While many women in Japan leave their professions after marriage and childbirth, she further honed her singing and dancing skills from her 30s after giving birth to a son when she was 20.

Her “unflattering and consistent way of living” has gained support, said Megumi Ushikubo, a critic on trends and generations. “Her performance and behavior show her efforts behind the scenes and her high level of professionalism. That’s why her support base has broadened to men and those in their 40s and 50s.”

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