To read Hamasaki’s discography and filmography, visit the post: Ayumi Hamasaki’s Profile
Hamasaki Ayumi, most known as “The Empress of Pop” is a Japanese singer-songwriter, considered to be one of the best artists in the country ranking her among the best-selling singers in the music history of Japan. Ayumi is not only a prolific singer-songwriter, but she is also a record producer, model, and actress.
Since debuting in 1998 with her single “Poker Face”, Ayumi has sold more than 50 million records in Japan.
I understand it’s my role to realize people’s dreams — Ayumi Hamasaki
Ayumi Hamasaki was born on October 2, 1978 in Fukuoka. She lived with her mother and grandmother as her father left the family when she was of very young age. Because her mother needed to support the family, Hamasaki was mainly raised by her grandmother. Her life style was very different from most Japanese kids of the time. She had a more liberal upbringing, and because of this she grew up to be an introverted, matured teen.
Hamasaki was a good student in junior high school, but had an image of being a delinquent because of her aggressive fashion statements. She was a bit of a rebel, who thought the subjects that were taught were of no use to her, she eventually lost faith, and her grades worsened. She started her career in the fashion industry at the age of seven, by modeling for banks and other institutions in order to help with the family’s income. At the age of fourteen she left home and moved to Tokyo to follow her career in modeling under the talent agency SOS. Because Hamasaki was too short for modeling, she was then transferred to a music agency, Sun Music.
Using the name of Ayumi, she released a rap EP under the Nippon Columbia label in 1995; “Nothing From Nothing”. However, the album failed to chart on the Oricon, and the label company dismissed her.
Hamasaki then took on acting, and starred in B-movies, like Ladys Ladys!! Socho Saigo no Hi, and also did some dramas, but they were all poorly received by the public.
During the mid nineties, Hamasaki also co-hosted once a week the SoundLink Hokago no Osama (After-school King) next to Shigeru Izumiya, for the Nintendo Satellaview. Hamasaki was dissatisfied with her performance, and quit acting to move in with her mother, who was in Tokyo at the time. During her acting days she met Nagase Tomoya who was also just a starting talent, and they started dating.
She attempted to further her studies at a high school for the arts, Horikoshi Gakuen. First time she took the exam she failed, but the second time ended up entering the school, however she dropped out in the first year. Because she didn’t have school nor a job, she would spend her time shopping in boutiques at Shibuya, and dancing in Velfarre, which is a disco-club owned by Avex. There she was introduced to Max Matsuura, the man who later became her music producer. Matsuura offered Hamasaki a recording deal after hearing her sing karaoke, but Hamasaki turned the offer down because she didn’t trust Matsuura was honest about the offer.
After persisting a few more times, Matsuura finally got Hamasaki to sign a deal with Avex label; Hamasaki’s music training started from there on. She was given classes in vocals, but started skipping them because she found the instructors to be strict and often tedious. After hearing of this, Matsuura sent her to New York to be trained under a different method; studying abroad, she impressed Matsuura with her style of writing while exchanging letters. He suggested she should write her own lyrics. This gave Ayumi something to look forward to, she had never really thought of becoming someone, she had low-self esteem, and didn’t believe much in her talents, but Matsuura helped her see differently.
No one had ever asked anything of me before, or expected anything of me. Part of me was flattered; part of me was terrified but didn’t want to admit I couldn’t do it. Plenty of people had patted my head and said, ‘Aren’t you cute.’ Senmu gets mad, but when he praises me, I know I’ve won it. He’s the one who found me and drew me out.– Ayumi Hamasaki
In 1998, her grandmother was hospitalized for a serious illness. Hamasaki being very close to her grandmother, she started traveling to Fukuoka with frequency, to visit her grandmother at the hospital. On the day of the recording for her single “Poker Face”, Hamasaki told her grandmother she would return as soon as she finished with the recording. However, her grandmother didn’t make it, and died while Ayumi was at the studio. Matsuura suggested she stopped the recording and go back to Fukuoka to be by her grandma’s side during the last moments, but Hamasaki insisted on finishing the song.
It sounds odd coming from me, but I realize what I say and how I look has a great impact.. — Ayumi Hamasaki
After her success as a new rising star in 1999, Hamasaki’s image was starting to be followed rapidly becoming a fashion icon. She had dyed her hair blonde (becoming her trade mark) and many of her female fans followed her. Hamasaki also, got offered several contracts with companies like, HONDA, Lycos Japan, AUBE, and Tu-Ka (it has been reported before, that Hamasaki actually saved Tu-ka from bankruptcy). Hamasaki won her first fashion award, Nail Queen, and also the Best Jewellery Waering Teenager award. She was staring to be featured in prominent fashion magazines, and also became the spokeswoman for Kose (a popular cosmetic company in Japan) earning the brand a record of 500,000 lipsticks sold every time she appeared in a promoting commercial.
In the beginning, I was searching for myself in my music. My music was for me. I didn’t have the mental room to be conscious of the listener; I wrote to save myself. I didn’t understand what it was to write songs. But over time I began to see many things, my influence, the responsibilities that gave me. –Ayumi Hamasaki
Despite having become a successful singer, Hamasaki was still overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity and low-self esteem. Hamasaki started realizing she had become an Idol, and that her actions and words had a big impact on her fans.
Hamasaki became a “Diva” in Japan after the massive amount of copies sold for her album A Best.
In 2008, on an entry in her TeamAyu blog, Hamasaki disclosed that she had been diagnosed in 2006 with possibly tinnitus or Meniere’s disease, and that it had caused complete deafness in her left ear. Nevertheless, Hamasaki shared her desired to continue singing. She said she would not give up, and that she would continue to deliver her best performance as a professional.
It would be nice if we could throw away everything but what is most important; Reality is just cruel –Ayumi Hamasaki
Later in 2011, Hamasaki married Austrian actor and model Manuel Schwarz. They had met on August 2010 while filming her music video “Virgin Road”. The wedding took place in United States, on January 1 of 2011. However, the marriage was short-lived as a year later Hamasaki announced of her divorced to Manuel. She stated that initially the plan was to move in with him in the States, but the plans changed after the catastrophe that stroke Japan with the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami on March of 2011. Hamasaki did not want to leave her home country, and instead stayed behind to help by donating 30 million yen to relief efforts. she also collaborated with fashion magazine ViVi, to sell T-shirts as charity.
Beginnings come at random but endings always have a reason –Ayumi Hamasaki
(Other information on Hamasaki)
◆ Hamasaki created her “Ayupan“, a figurine doll that is a cartoon version of herself. It is said that the doll is named like that because Hamasaki thinks it looks like a panda. The doll became the hotterst merchandise item released by Hamasaki to this date.
◆ Hamasaki is such a strong and powerful singer, nothing is released without her approval.
◆ Because of her influence not only in Japan, but outside as well, and the constant change of her image; Hamasaki has often been compared to Madonna.
◆ Hamasaki has her own fashion brand, MTRLG (Material Girl).
◆ Hamasake once collaborated with Sanrio to create a new line “Ayumi Hamasaki x Hello Kitty”. This merchandise features Ayupan and Hello Kitty together.
◆ Hamasaki has also hosted her own TV show, Ayurady?. It aired Saturday from 11:30 pm to midnight.
◆ In order to promote her show, Hamasaki opened a restaurant on Shonan Beach; Rainbow House. The restaurant was used in occasions for the episodes of Ayuready?
Our thoughts on Ayumi “The Empress of Pop”
I first heard her music when I was in high school (over 8 years ago :O) My sister came to me an said,”You’ve got to hear this. Shes sings so fast and well!” It was her song “Evolution”. I fell in love with her music, and she seems to be a really nice person. I always enjoy hearing new songs from her. 😀 –SleepNinja
I love Ayumi! She introduced me to Jpop (: When I first got into anime I started liking some of the music. I remember I especially liked the ending songs from Inuyasha and I’d sit through the credits just to listen to the song. When I noticed her name for the one song, “Dearest”, I decided to look up more music from her. And the more songs I looked up, the more songs I fell in love with! That was about 5 years ago now, and she still remains my favorite Jpop artist. There’s not a song by her I don’t like. I love that she writes most of her own songs and she’s very talented. She does all types of pop genres and ballads. I can’t wait for her to make more music (: –crazy4you
While learning of Ayumi’s life, I found myself related to some things, like how she lived a more liberal life-style than her other friends because her mother was a single working mom; I experienced that as well growing up, and I was also very introverted. I’m very impressed with Ayumi’s career life, she is a woman who although she had nothing at the start and many times got shut down by others, she never gave up entirely and finally became one of the most influential singers of Japan. I applaud her for having perseverance, and I hope she continues to be strong! –JADEEYES