NumeroTOKYO / Fusosha

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As her presence as an artiste grew, she also started to gain influence as a fashion leader, and started various trends while in her early 20’s. Even that holds some unexpected stories from the busy star.

“There was a period of time when huge sunglasses became my trademark, but that didn’t start as a fashion statement. I started wearing them because I wanted to hide my face as much as possible. Because of work, I had to change hair and make-up styles several times in one day, so the condition of my skin and hair deteriorated. The sudden change to short hair was also a last resort due to that. (laugh) Personally, the trends which I still follow today are Kitty-chan and candles. When I’m travelling, being surrounded by a favourite scent helps me to settle down comfortably. Kitty-chan is a personal obsession. It’s just brilliant how even a change in the position of her ribbon adds a sense of freshness which I never get enough of. I think that she’s a character who resembles Hamasaki Ayumi, so I feel a sense of closeness to her, and I get excited every time she releases something new!”

Regarding her music, she delivers them not only as sound, but with moving bodies for a visual presentation as well. As an ardent producer, she sought after a stage style with unique entertainment, something which was first achieved with 2005’s “MY STORY”.

“Ever since the first tour, I’ve been writing my own script and creating my own setlist, then refining and changing things over and over until it becomes the best it can be, which is then saved as a memory on the DVD releases. When the DVD for that tour was completed, I felt that I had truly delivered my message, that the songs were finally complete for the first time. Every time I create a song, it feels as if I’m carving a part of myself away. The pain of birthing each song comes with an extreme joy that I’ve done all I could to express and deliver the song. “MY STORY” tour reaffirmed that for me. 2012’s “Hotel Love songs” felt the same way too, and I truly felt that I had raised the bar set by “MY STORY”. I was really happy to create a show that I’ve always dreamed of creating, and when I view the DVD now, it’s a piece of work which makes me go “that was definitely something interesting”.”

Having achieved such great satisfaction and positive feedback, she had the confidence to delve deeper whilst maintaining that positivity. However, knowing herself, she knew that there was no guarantee involved.

“It’s like how, after conquering one mountain, you’d feel like conquering another, and that was how I was the following year, in 2006. I was in my late 20’s then, and I started to think about how I wanted Hamasaki Ayumi to be like. There was this urge to “break out of my shell”, to become an adult and show that I was no longer a little girl. I dyed my hair black, and switched from casualwear to branded goods… In terms of music, I took up the challenge of producing an album with material from overseas artistes for the first time. Now, I realize that, even though it’s a slightly different circumstance, what I felt then is similar to what I am feeling right now… Thus far, I’ve been scaling mountains at a fast pace, but maybe I should slow down and look at the scenery, to see if there is anything I can find there. Even if there’s a risk involved in doing that, I’d rather regret doing so than regret not having done it at all. That was exactly what I was singing about back then too. (laugh)”

The period of 27~28 is when most women think about climbing the career ladder. It was during that life-changing period when she entered 2007. Fulfilling the wishes of her overseas fans for the first time, she successfully completed the Asia Tour, and earned the title of Asia’s pop princess.

“For the Asia Tour, I managed to experience how people from different countries enjoy entertainment, which gave me the objectivity to watch my shows in Japan in a different light, so it was a really valuable experience. However, because I couldn’t speak English as well as I can now, I couldn’t say what I wanted to say during the emcee sessions. Actually, the regret I felt was what made me start to work hard on my English. Somehow, regret is the one factor which drives me forward the most. (laugh)”


During 2008, the 10th Anniversary year, what was unforgettable was how she made a present of autographed Louboutin shoes to every single member of the 300-strong tour staff. It was an incomparable anecdote worthy of a top star. However, what she tells us now is a surprisingly honest view which was not heard in interviews done back then…

“As it was my 10th Anniversary, I was so caught up in thinking that “I need to do things, I need to work hard!”, that it turned out to be quite fruitless. I did my 2nd Asia Tour, wanting to make it different, but I ended up straying too far. Then, unable to balance my inner self, I worked until my body gave in, and sank into several bad habits… However, finally overcoming all those things made me a tougher person. I remember talking about going back to my roots back then, but it was not about a sudden change in heart that I wanted to start working hard. It was about how I wanted Hamasaki Ayumi to be like, how I wanted to be like as a person, and the reality I needed to confront in order to achieve that. That was what I meant by going back to my roots.”

With several months each year dedicated to the nationwide tour, summer to a-nation, and year’s end to Countdown Live, she repeated the cycle for 10 years… In order to put up with challenging acts, she built up her stamina by running almost 10km everyday. This placed stress on her knees, which she had to periodically relieve through surgical procedures to remove built-up fluids. To Hamasaki Ayumi, who refuses to allow any errors in any part of her shows even while fighting high fevers, her disabled weak knees in addition to hearing loss in one ear was probably more than unsettling.

“Such setbacks did throw me down, but after that, the only way open to me was up. I’ve been overcoming obstacles thus far with this thinking. Unable to run because of my knee, I searched online for methods other than running which could help me keep my stamina, and I finally found the website of Katou-sensei, who is helping me with regards to pressure training up to this day. My encounter with pressure training was really important to me, so I’ve been doing it all this while. I also do yoga sometimes too. In terms of personality, it was in my 20’s when I was hardest on myself, but at the end of the day, being a balanced individual is the most important. I only realized that the year following my 10th Anniversary, and I decided from then on to take care of my own body.”