Chihiro Onitsuka

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Chihiro Onitsuka
Born (1980-10-30) October 30, 1980 (age 37)
Origin Nango, Miyazaki, Japan
Genres Folk, folk-rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Piano
Years active 2000–present
Labels Toshiba EMI/Virgin Tokyo
Universal Sigma/A&M Records
For Life Music
Associated acts
Website onitsuka-chihiro.jp

Chihiro Onitsuka (鬼束 ちひろ, Onitsuka Chihiro) (born October 30, 1980) is a Japanese singer-songwriter.

In 2000, Onitsuka released her debut single "Shine" and gained recognition when its follow-up "Gekkou" became a hit. Insomnia, her first studio album, released in the following year, topped the Japanese Oricon charts and sold more than a million copies.[1][2] "Memai", one of the singles from her debut album provided her with honor of winning the prize for lyrics of the 43rd Japan Record Awards in 2001.[3]

Onitsuka has suffered physical and mental illnesses, affecting her career.[4][5][6][7][8] She put her recording career on hold until March 2007, after some confrontations with record labels and management offices during the mid-2000s.[9]

Onitsuka has enjoyed a successful career as one of the most popular Japanese female solo artists during the early 2000s. As of 2009, Onitsuka has released 5 studio albums, 17 singles, 2 compilations and several DVDs, which has sold at least 4.1 million.

Early life[edit]

Her parents encouraged Onitsuka to listen to Western music and by the time she was ten, she wrote her first poems, receiving praise from her parents, friends and teachers, who called them 'earnest efforts'. Secretly, however, she knew that just writing 'earnestly' wasn't enough. From that time onward, she tried to write every day, and by the time she was in junior high school, she began to gain more confidence.[citation needed]

Having been influenced by Alanis Morissette in junior high school days, it was the encounter with Jewel's music and presence during the high school years that strongly compelled Onitsuka to become a singer-songwriter. With some 70 original compositions and several other auditions under her belt, Onitsuka entered the 1998 Virgin Tokyo Artists Audition, going on to winning Grand Prize. Then only 17, Onitsuka started her career as a professional and moved to Tokyo in spring 1999 after graduating from high school.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

2000-2001: "Gekkou" and Insomnia[edit]

Onitsuka's debut single "Shine" was released on February 9, 2000. Despite the big promotion, it failed commercially and did not enter any charts.

In August 2000, Onitsuka released "Gekkō" as the second single from her debut studio album, Insomnia. The song served as the theme song to the Japanese television series Trick, starring Yukie Nakama and Hiroshi Abe. The song debuted at number thirty on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart and peaked at number eleven. It has sold over 561,000 physical units and 500,000 digital units and remains as Onitsuka's best-selling song.[10] The double-A-side single, "Memai"/"Edge" was released as the fourth single from her debut album. It peaked at number six on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart and was certificated platinum by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ). "Memai" later earned a Japan Record Awards for Best Lyrics at the 2001 ceremony.[11]

Following of the success of the singles, Onitsuka's debut studio album Insomnia was released in March 2001 to commercial success, peaking at number one on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and has sold over 1,300,000 copies.[1][12] The album later earned a Rock Album of the Year for the Japan Gold Disc Award. In support of the album, Onitsuka embarked on her first concert tour Chihiro Onitsuka Live Tour 2001 in April 2001. On the same month, she released her second video album Me and My Devil, which includes a collection of Onitsuka's music videos.

While Insomnia remaining on the chart, Onitsuka released the double-A-side single "Infection"/"Little Beat Lifle" as the lead single from her second album This Armor in September 2001. Four days after its release, September 11 attacks occurred. As the lyrics of "Infection" reminds the incident, EMI Music Japan cancelled the promotion to avoid causing controversy. Despite the circumstances, the single was a commercial hit, peaking at number five on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart and selling over 170,000 copies. In November 2001, her live video album Cradle on My Noise Live: Live Insomnia Video Edition was released. It includes Onitsuka's performance in Shibuya, Tokyo during her Chihiro Onitsuka Live Tour 2001.

2002-2003: This Armor and Sugar High[edit]

In February 2002, Onitsuka was reported to be slightly injured in a bike accident. Onitsuka's second studio album This Armor was released in March 2002. The album was a commercial success, peaking at number three on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and has sold over 500,000 copies in Japan. The album was followed by two singles, "Infection"/"Little Beat Lifle" and "Ryūseigun". The latter served as the theme song to the second season of the Japanese television series Trick and peaked at number seven on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart.

Shortly after the album came out, Onitsuka embarked on her second concert tour Live Vibe 2002. However, she was diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis from overwork and put off the two shows in the tour.[4] After the tour, she took hiatus for months to recover her health condition. In November 2002, she made her comeback with the performance at the Nippon Budokan, the first show of her third concert tour Chihiro Onitsuka Ultimate Crash '02.[13]

Onitsuka's third studio album Sugar High was released in December 2002. The ballad-filled album met with a commercial success, peaking at number two on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and has been certificated gold by RIAJ.[14] The album includes "Castle Imitation", the theme song to the PlayStation2 role-playing game, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter.

In January 2003, the documentary television program, Artist Document Kami ga Maioriru Shunkan: Chihiro Onitsuka 22 sai no Sugao was broadcast on NHK. Onitsuka released a single "Sign". To promote the single, she appeared several television variety shows, including "Mezamashi TV" and "Waratte Iitomo!". As a result, the single peaked at number four on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart, becoming Onitsuka's highest charting song on the chart. Her follow-up single "Beautiful Figher" was released in August 2003. It was commercially less successful than her previous singles, selling only 36,000 copies. However, it managed to peak at number nine on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart.

On September 10, 2003, Onitsuka announced she would take a hiatus until the end of the year to undergo a surgery to remove polyps and get over poor throat condition. Shortly before the announcement, she finished the recording of "Ii Hi Tabidachi, Nishi e", the cover of Momoe Yamaguchi. The song was released in October 2003 and sold 83,000 copies, making it her sixth best-selling song. The song served as the theme song to West Japan Railway Company's Discover West campaign. In November 2003, she released "Watashi to Waltz o", which served as the theme song to the third season of the Japanese television drama series "Trick", as well as her previous hits "Gekkō" and "Ryūseigun". The song became her last single under EMI Music Japan.

2004-2006: "Sodatsu Zassō" and two-year hiatus[edit]

In March 2004, the box album titled Single Box was released without her intention. It managed to sell approximately 3,000 copies and entered on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart at number one hundred six. Her fourth studio album was set to be released in this year, however the album was cancelled and substituted by the release of the box album.

On June 18, 2004, she transferred the production company to Sony Music Artists and the record label to A&M Records. In September 2004, she performed "King of Pain", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and premiered her original song "Sodatsu Zassō" at Sweet Love Shower 2004. The performance gained great public attention as she appeared in hard rock style costume, breaking down her previous pure image. The song was released in October 2004 and peaked at number ten on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart. After the release, she announced that she would put her career on hiatus again. However, the hiatus lasted until March 2007, when she performed at AP Bang! Tokyo Creators Meeting. At one point she said that the reason of her departure from the music scene was because of mental fatigue caused by the series of new releases and tight schedules. However, in an interview printed in the October 19, 2007, issue of the Japanese popular music magazine Barfout, Onitsuka said that in 2004 she had attempted suicide by overdosing on medication. In addition, Onitsuka mentioned a polyp on her vocal cords around that time, as well as an eating disorder that saw her weight drop as low as 79 pounds (36 kilograms).

In December 2004, Onitsuka's first compilation album The Ultimate Collection was released simultaneously with the release of her sixth video album The Complete Clips via EMI Music Japan, her former record label. The two records were both released without her involvement, and today, they are treated as unofficial albums. Despite the situation, the compilation album commercially succeeded, selling over 230,000 copies in Japan and has been certificated platinum by RIAJ. While it peaked at number three on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart, it entered G-Music East Asian Chart at number two.

On July 26, 2005, a man, who kept ringing the doorbell of Onitsuka's house for thirty minutes with a bouquet in his hands, was arrested for housebreaking. In September 2005, EMI Music Japan released Onitsuka's second compilation album Singles 2000-2003, which has sold 60,000 copies in Japan.

2007-2010: Las Vegas and Dorothy[edit]

In April 2007, Onitsuka founded her individual production company Napoleon Records. In the following month, her comeback single "Everyone" was released as the lead single from her fourth studio album Las Vegas. The album was released in October 2007 and reached number six on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and number one on the G-Music East Asian Chart. The second single from the album, "Bokura Barairo no Hibi" peaked at number thirteen on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart.

On April 26, 2008, she held her first one-man show since Unplugged '03 in 2003, entitled Chihiro Onitsuka Concert Nine Dirts and Snow White Flickers at Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Shibuya. "Hotaru", the lead single from Onitsuka's fifth studio album, Dorothy, was released on August 6, 2008 and reached number eleven on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart. The song served as the theme song to the Japanese film Last Game Saigo no Soukei Sen (2008). On September 26, 2008, she announced the cancellation of the concert tour Chihiro Onitsuka Concert Tour 2008 "Vegas Code" due to her poor physical condition.

In September 2009, Onitsuka released her fifth studio album Dorothy. The album was preceded by four singles: "Hotaru", "X"/"Last Melody", "Kaerimichi o Nakushite", and "Kagerō", all of which entered within top 20 on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart. The album peaked at number ten in Japan, and number four on the G-Music East Asisn chart.

In April 2010, the compilation album One of Pillars: Best of Chihiro Onitsuka 2000-2010 was released. Although the album is Onitsuka's third compilation release, it was the first compilation album which was released under her approval. The album was a less commercial success, compared to her previous albums, only managed to peak at number thirteen on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and has sold approximately 16,000 copies.

On August 18, 2010, it was reported that Onitsuka underwent domestic violence by her then-boyfriend and had a bad injury which would take one month to heal completely. On September 17, the suspect, Yūsuke Komiya, was arrested.

2011-2015: Ken to Kaede and Good Bye Train: All Time Best 2000-2013[edit]

In February 2011, Onitsuka transferred the record label to For Life Music and released her first single under the label, "Aoi Tori" in August 2011.[15] In April 2011, Onitsuka's sixth studio album Ken to Kaede was released. The album reached number sixteen on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and has sold 11,000 copies in Japan. To promote the album, Onitsuka embarked on the concert tour Chihiro Onitsuka Concert Tour 2011: Hotel Murderess of Arizona Acoustic Show. In September 2011, Onitsuka served as a main personality on the web series Chihiro Onitsuka: Houchou no Ue de Utatanet. Her first cover album Famous Microphone was released in May 2012 and peaked at number thirty-four on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart.

On June 22, 2012, Onitsuka started Twitter account, however, she posted several violent tweets toward celebrities like Akiko Wada and Shinsuke Shimada. These tweets were briefly deleted and on the next day, she offered an apology for her remarks.

In March 2013, Onitsuka embarked on the concert tour Chihiro Onitsuka Tour Show 2013 Itazura Pierrot. She released the single "Itazura Pierrot" exclusively at the tour venues. In December 2013, Onitsuka released the double-A-side single "This Silence is Mine"/"Anata to Science". The former served as the theme song to the action role-playing video game Drakengard 3. On the same day of the release, her fourth compilation album Good Bye Train: All Time Best 2000-2013 was released. The album was a commercial failure, only managed to peak at number sixty-eight on the Oricon Albums chart.

In January 2014, Onitsuka embarked on the concert tour Heart Beat Tour 2014, as the vocalist of the band, Chihiro Onitsuka and Billys Sandwiches. Her single "Inori ga Kotoba ni Kawaru Koro" was released on May 2014 and served as the theme song to the Japanese supernatural horror film Ju-On: The Beginning of the End. In September 2014, the debut album of Chihiro Onitsuka and Billys Sandwiches, Tricky Sisters Magic Burger was released. The follow-up single "Starlight Letter" was released in April 2015, exclusively in her fan club. She also wrote a song "Natsu no Tsumi", for Natsumi Hanaoka's debut single. The song helped her earn a Japan Record Awards nomination for Best New Artist.

2016-present: Syndrome and upcoming eighth studio album[edit]

On January 28, 2016, Onitsuka's performance, entitled Chihiro Onitsuka "Tune Hour 2016" was broadcast live on Ustream, in the performance, she made a strong impression of the recovery from her bad vocal condition. In April 2016, Onitsuka embarked on the concert tour Tigerlily.

In November 2016, Onitsuka released her fisrt single under Victor Entertainment, "Good Bye My Love" as the lead single from her eighth studio album. Although the song only managed to peak at number thirty-five on the Oricon Weekly Singles chart, it became her best-selling single in the last seven year since "Kagerō". Onitsuka's eighth studio album, Syndrome was released on February 1, 2017. The album sold better than her label's expectation, making it sold out in the several CD stores. Syndrome peaked at number fifteen on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and spent nine weeks there, selling more than 11,000 copies. To promote the album, Onitsuka embarked on the concert tour of the same title as the album from April 2017 to July 2017. In June 2017, Onitsuka released her fisrt live album Tiny Scream, which compiled from her performance at Breeze Tower, Osaka in June 2016, and Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo in November 2016. The album peaked at number twenty-two on the Oricon Weekly Albums chart and topped on the Onkyo High-resolution audio chart. In August 2017, Onitsuka performed at one of the biggest music festival in Japan, Rock in Japan Festival.[16]

In June 2018, Onitsuka embarked on the concert tour, Under Babies. On July 27, 2018, Onitsuka announced that she had been married since 2015. "Hinagiku", the lead single from Onitsuka's ninth studio album, is set to be released in August 2018.[17]

Artistry[edit]

Music critic Tetsu Misaki in 2002 noted that Onitsuka was one of the few pop singers to sing about anger, citing lyrics such as isu o keritaoshi (椅子を蹴り倒し, "kick down the chairs") in "Shine" (2000) and fuhai shita sekai (腐敗した世界, "depraved world") in "Gekkō" (2000). He praised her "strong spirit" and writing without hesitation, but felt like her lyrics were not like standard poetry, as they dealt with unpolished things.[18]

For her lyrics, Misaki noted that her lyrics were difficult to interpret, despite the fact that she does not use complicated words. He contrasted her lyrics to that of Ayumi Hamasaki, who in the early 2000s wrote about an "easy to understand sadness," whereas it was not so clear what caused the sadness in Onitsuka's lyrics. Misaki further noted Onitsuka's use of body parts in her lyrics, especially legs, which is not common in Japanese popular music.[18]

Misaki noted that Onitsuka's song titles had little to do with their lyrical content causing discord. He pointed out "Gekkō" as being moonless, "Memai" not to do with dizziness and "Rasen," which instead of having a spiral theme to the lyrics seemed to talk about moving forward.[18] [However, "Memai" can be interpreted as a psychological dizziness because of the instability of the narrator and her need to be emotionally sheltered. "Rasen" can be interpreted either as the end of a chapter in her life, which is often called a spiral, and the beginning of a new and better one; or as a suicide song, and the spiral of emotions that lead there (anger, doubt, not being able to forget a loved one).]

Domestic violence[edit]

On August 18, 2010, Onitsuka was assaulted by her boyfriend Yusuke Komiya in her apartment. Onitsuka and Komiya had been dating since September 2009 and the two shared an apartment together. Late at night on August 18, Komiya was out drinking and came home completely drunk. While Onitsuka was sleeping, Komiya punched her in the eyes. Onitsuka then tried to retaliate but was severely beaten resulting in several broken ribs.[19] Onitsuka began her lawsuit against him on December 16, 2010.

Discography[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b STYLE アーティスト/CD検索 - 2001年03月第3週のアルバムランキング情報 "(Searching results of the Japanese Oricon Weekly Albums Chart, the third week of March 2001)" Check |url= value (help). oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  2. ^ "List of the albums certified million by the RIAJ". riaj.or.jp (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  3. ^ "List of the 43rd Japan Record Award Winners" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2003-10-09. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  4. ^ a b 鬼束ちひろ、今度は急性腸炎で緊急入院 コンサートをキャンセル. zakzak.co.jp (in Japanese). April 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-07-03. 
  5. ^ "(Chihiro Onitsuka suddenly dropped by her management office)". nikkansports.com (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports. May 30, 2004. Archived from the original on June 2, 2004. 
  6. ^ 鬼束ちひろ 年内休養. daily.co.jp (in Japanese). Daily Sports. October 27, 2004. Archived from the original on December 5, 2004. 
  7. ^ "(Sony Music Artists ended management contract with Chihiro Onitsuka in 9 months)". sanspo.co.jp (in Japanese). Sankei Sports. February 2005. Archived from the original on February 13, 2005. 
  8. ^ "(Chihiro Onitsuka cancels concert tour because of her physical deconditioning)". bounce.com (in Japanese). Tower Records. Retrieved December 23, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ 鬼束ちひろが2年半ぶりに活動再開. oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Daily Sports. March 18, 2007. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  10. ^ STYLE アーティスト/CD検索 - 2000年08月第3週のシングルランキング情報 "(Searching results of the Japanese Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, the third week of August 2000)" Check |url= value (help). oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  11. ^ "第43回レコード大賞(2001年)受賞一覧" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 6, 2018. 
  12. ^ "- Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) - Albums Chart Daijiten - Chihiro Onitsuka" (in Japanese). December 30, 2007. Retrieved December 23, 2009. [dead link]
  13. ^ 鬼束ちひろ、半年ぶりライブ (in Japanese). Daily Sports. November 2002. Archived from the original on December 2, 2002. 
  14. ^ STYLE アーティスト/CD検索 - 2002年12月第4週のアルバムランキング情報 "(Searching results of the Japanese Oricon Weekly Albums Chart, the third week of March 2001)" Check |url= value (help). oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Onitsuka Chihiro releases new album". Asia Pacific Arts. 12 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "鬼束ちひろ". ROCK IN JAPAN FES. 2017. Retrieved 2018-08-16. 
  17. ^ "ヒナギク<プレミアム・コレクターズ・エディション(完全生産限定盤)【SHM-CD+Blu-ray+PHOTOBOOK】>". Amazon. Retrieved 2018-08-16. 
  18. ^ a b c Misaki, Tetsu (July 20, 2002). "鬼束ちひろ~直感を歌う巫女" [Chihiro Onitsuka, a priestess singing her prophesies]. Jポップの日本語―歌詞論 [J-Pop Japanese: Lyricism] (in Japanese). Chiyoda, Tokyo: Sairyuusha. pp. 131–147. ISBN 4-88202-752-6. 
  19. ^ "Trial begins for Onitsuka Chihiro's assault case - tokyohive.com".