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O n Sept. 16, fans across the country flocked to events paying tribute to pop diva Namie Amuro, marking the day she will step out of the spotlight.

The music and fashion icon stunned fans last September by saying she planned to quit showbiz. The announcement on her website came just days after she marked her 25th anniversary as a performer.

Debuting on Sept. 16, 1992, as a member of the all-girl group Super Monkey’s, Amuro went on to dominate the charts as a solo artist with a string of mega-hits, including “Can You Celebrate?” and “Chase the Chance.”

With her signature get-up of a miniskirt and high-heel platform boots with dyed brown hair, thin arched eyebrows and a deep tan, the teenage Amuro created a phenomenon in the mid-1990s, inspiring young girls and women to copy her fashion, hairstyle and makeup.

As a measure of her enduring popularity, Amuro produced albums that sold over a million copies at various points during her career — when she was in her teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s — with the last being a CD of past hits called “Finally.”

Her final tour, which began in February, has drawn about 750,000 fans, a record for a solo artist on a single music tour in Japan. Her tour dates also included stops in Taipei and China’s Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

In Okinawa, Amuro sang “Never End” at a welcome reception for leaders of the then-Group of Eight nations at the 2000 G8 Summit in Okinawa. Earlier this year, she won the Okinawa prefectural honor award.

Amuro surprised fans in 1997 when she decided to get married at age 20, at the peak of her career, to a member of the Japanese pop group TRF. After giving birth to a son in May 1998, she made a comeback in December that year after taking a year off for maternity and child care leave. The couple divorced in 2002.

Her life was not without tragedy, however. In 1999 her mother was murdered in unusual circumstances.

Asuka Watanabe, a Kyoritsu Women’s Junior College professor knowledgeable about youth fashion and trends, says Amuro’s impact goes beyond music and fashion, pointing out that she changed the perception of the way women can live their lives.

“Getting married and giving birth at the height of one’s career encouraged other young women that this can be a lifestyle to pursue,” Watanabe said.

First published in The Japan Times on Sept. 17.

Warm up

One-minute chat about your favorite singer.


Collect words related to music, e.g., sing, concert, karaoke.

New words

1) flock: to gather, e.g., “People flocked to the mall for the sales.”

2) get-up: an outfit, e.g., “Can you go to work in that get-up?”

Guess the headline

Amuro fans flock to tribute events as Japanese d_ _ _ says fare_ _ _ _ to show business


1) When did Amuro announce her retirement?

2) What did she inspire in the 1990s?

3) According to the article, what will her legacy be, other than in music and fashion?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about Amuro’s retirement?

2) Do you think she had an impact on society?

3) Who is your role model?



平成時代のアイコンが表舞台から引退し、来年には新たな時代が幕をあけます。次の 時代、音楽やファッション、そして私たちの生き方はどのように進化していくのでしょうか。朝の会に参加し皆さんで語り合ってみましょう。


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