Meet Chihiro Onitsuka, a Japanese folk/rock singer and songwriter. Chihiro gained popularity in Japan for the hit "Gekkou" in 2000. Since her breakthrough, Onitsuka has had a successful career, and has become one of the most popular Japanese female vocalist. She has released a total of 17 singles, 5 studio albums, 6 DVDs, and 3 compilations.
Chihiro was encouraged to listen to western music by her parents at a young age; she became
influenced by Alanis Morissette and Jewel during high school, propelling her into singing and songwriting, while was only writing poetry before. In 1998, Chihiro entered and won the Virgin Tokyo Artists audition, which at 17 years old, landed her a recording contract. She released her debut single “Shine” in March 2000; it failed to chart, but her follow-up “Gekkou” gave Chihiro the recognition she worked hard to receive. “Gekkou”, which was featured as the ending theme to the tv drama “Trick“, peaked at number 11 on the oricon charts, and has sold over 500,000 copies to date. She released two other singles, “Cage” and “Memai“, until the release of her debut album.
In March 2001, at the age of 21, Chihiro released her debut album “Insomnia“, which included her first single and the hit “Gekkou“. The album focused on acoustic arrangements, which became Chihiro’s signature sound. “Insomnia” debuted at number one on the Oricon charts and has sold 1.3 million. This made her the second artist to have a number one album on the Oricon chart, with Utada being the first. Chihiro was later awarded the ‘Best Lyrics Award’ for her 4th single “Memai“, at the 2001 Japan Record Awards, and a ‘Rock Album of the Year Award’ at the 2002 Japan Gold Disc Award for “Insomnia“. Chihiro released a DVD compilation of her first music videos in April 2001, and later embarked on her first tour called Chihiro Onitsuka Live Tour 2001.
In September 2001, Chihiro released a double A-Side single titled “Infection“/”Little Beat Rifle“. The first track, “Infection“, was featured as a theme song for the tv drama ‘Hyouten‘. Due to the fact that some of “Infection’s” lyrics coincided with the September 11 tragedy, to avoid controversy the second song “Little Beat Rifle” was promoted instead. In March 2002, Chihiro released her second studio album titled “This Armor“. The album included the previous single “Infection” and “Ryuseigun“, which was the theme song for season two of the tv drama “Trick“. Shortly after releasing her second album, Chihiro went on another nationwide tour called ‘Live Vibe 2002’. However, she later fell ill and had to postpone two shows of her tour. Chihiro took time off to recuperate, and returned in November 2002 with a live performance at the Nippon Budokan. The performance titled ‘Ultimate Clash 2002’, was later released on DVD.
Within just 9 months of her second album, Chihiro released her third record titled ‘Sugar High‘. The third effort debuted at number two on the Oricon charts, but the singles from the album failed to impress as her previous songs did. In 2003, Onitsuka suffered from vocal cord nodules, and she underwent surgery to correct her throat condition. After receiving treatment, Chihiro recorded a song titled “Watashi to Waltz wo“, which became her final release on Virgin Tokyo/EMI in November 2003. In 2004, she signed a contract with Universal Music, and planned the release of her fourth studio album, however it was not released. Her former record label however, released a ‘best of compilation’ of all her singles til then. Chihiro later released a single titled “Sodatsu Zasso” in 2004, which depicted a change in her signature style of music. Later in 2004, Chihiro suddenly disappeared from the music industry without any announcement of taking a break whatsoever, leaving her fans in anticipation.
In March 2007, Chihiro returned with a live performance in Tokyo, and her 12th single titled “Everyhome“, after being gone for nearly two years. As for her reason for disappearing from the music scene, Chihiro stated that she was suffering from mental fatigue and depression. “Everyhome” reached number 9 on the Oricon weekly charts, and her 13th single “Bokura Barairo no Hibi“, debuted at number 13. Her fourth studio album, “Las Vegas“, which was released in November 2007, debuted at number two on the Oricon charts. In 2009, Chihiro released her fifth album “Dorothy“, which included her latest singles “X“, “Losing My Way Home“, and “Kagero“. In April 2010, Chihiro released a compilation album titled “One of Pillars: Best of Chihiro Onitsuka 2000 – 2010“, which is the first compilation released under her new label. The collection consisted of all her hits including “Gekkou” and “Infection“, my two favorites.
Chihiro Onitsuka is an amazing and talented singer/songwriter. She is such a wonderful vocalist. Her music truly touches the core of your soul, without a single understanding of the words. You can purchase her music on amazon.com, so please show your support to the obviously talented musicians. Check out my two favorite songs below: