This weekend, iconic J-pop star Namie Amuro will hold her final concert. After that, she will apparently never perform on stage again.
Amuro is one of the biggest-selling artists in Japanese music history, selling 38 million records during her career. She debuted in 1992 at age 14 as a member of the idol group Super Monkey’s. She became so popular that the group’s name was changed to Namie Amuro with Super Monkey’s.
Once the group disbanded, Amuro was poised to launch her hugely successful solo career.
Her first two solo singles were hits, but it was her third single “Don’t Wanna Cry” that helped establish the then-19-year-old as one of Japan’s brightest stars of the 1990s.
The album that followed, Sweet 19 Blues, was at the time the best selling album in Japanese music history. It is now a classic.
The next year, Amuro released “Can You Celebrate?” and it went to become the biggest selling single from a Japanese female recording artist, selling 2.75 million copies.
It is now one of the default songs people play at weddings.
Amuro defined the day’s fashion inspiring a generation of young women to dress like her, wearing mini-skirts and platform boots, putting highlights in their hair, and keeping their eyebrows thin.
今日美容院いくけどこれはさすがにやばいかな？？— AIRI ❤︎【安室ちゃん垢】 (@namie_airi738) September 14, 2018
どうしても寝る前に。— kuchikomibeauty (@kuchikomibeauty) September 20, 2017
There was even a word for young women who followed her fashion: “Amuraa.”
It was a golden age of Jpop, with fellow female artists Ayumi Hamasaki and Hikaru Utada dominating the airwaves. Utada remains popular, but Ayumi Hamasaki, with whom Amuro has been often compared, hasn’t been as resilient, and sadly she has become an object of internet scorn. Amuro, however, has not.
She has weathered the Japanese entertainment complex through the decades, continuing to grow as a recording artist, change with the times, and release successful albums.
Last spring, she shocked fans when she told them she would be retiring on 16 September 2018, the 26th anniversary of her debut.
Since her announcement, Amuro has been spending the past year doing publicity, interviews and touring. It’s been a chance for fans to say goodbye. One Piece even bid her adieu.
Japan Airline’s Okinawa carrier rolled out an “Amuro Jet” to say thanks to the most famous pop star the prefecture has produced.
安室奈美恵飛行機 pic.twitter.com/0Aoz8lDu93— えふじぇーーーーい (@fuji_mng) September 8, 2018
Her newest album, a compilation album titled Finally, was released on 8 November 2017 and has sold over 2.25 million copies.
“I will never be on stage like this after Sept. 16,” Amuro, now 40, was quoted by Asahi as saying at the Tokyo Dome this past June. “To my fans and those who have supported me, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for creating memories of the past 25 years.”
Namie Amuro’s final performance will be this Sunday in her native Okinawa. Below is a 20-minute clip on her career.