Yukiko Okada

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Yukiko Okada
岡田 有希子
Okada Yukiko.jpg
Yukiko Okada in 1984
Kayo Satō (佐藤 佳代)

(1967-08-22)August 22, 1967
DiedApril 8, 1986(1986-04-08) (aged 18)
Cause of deathSuicide by jumping from height
Burial placeAisai, Aichi
Other namesYukko
OccupationSinger, actress, model
Years active1983–1986
AgentSun Music (Japanese Wikipedia article)

Yukiko Okada (岡田 有希子, Okada Yukiko, August 22, 1967 – April 8, 1986) was a Japanese singer and actress, active in the mid-1980s. After winning a nationwide television show at age 15 in 1983, she debuted as an idol in 1984. Her death by suicide two years later led to a number of copycat suicides, a phenomenon that would bear her name.

Early life[edit]

Yukiko Okada was born as Satō Kayo[3] (佐藤佳代) on August 22, 1967, the second daughter of the Satō family. The family later moved to Nagoya. In elementary school, Okada loved to read, especially manga, and she was a talented artist. In junior high school, Okada wanted to become a singer and applied for every possible audition, anything from major productions to the smallest talent recruitment, hoping to become a star. She was rejected every time until she was finally accepted to a TV talent program, Star Tanjō! on Nippon Television – similar to Star Search, though the final stage was her singing to get interest from talent agents – singing Kitahara Sawako's "MY BOYFRIEND" for the audition, and Akina Nakamori's "Slow Motion" for the final round, which she won in March 1983.[citation needed]


Okada made her debut in 1984,[3] when on April that year, she released her first single, "First Date", written by composer and singer Mariya Takeuchi,[1] later famous internationally for the city pop song "Plastic Love". She was nicknamed "Yukko" (ユッコ) by her fans, which is a common abbreviation for the name "Yukiko" in the Japanese language.[citation needed] Her smile bore the same name: the "Yukko smile".[4]

Okada won Rookie of the Year in the year of her debut,[citation needed]. and she was awarded the 26th Japan Record Awards Grand Prix Best New Artist Award[2] for her third single, "-Dreaming Girl- Koi, Hajimemashite", also written by Takeuchi.[5][6]

Okada played the leading role in her first television drama Kinjirareta Mariko (The Forbidden Mariko), in 1985. Her 1986 single "Kuchibiru Network" [ja], written by Seiko Matsuda and composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto,[7] reached number one on the Oricon weekly singles chart dated February 10, 1986.[citation needed] (It was later covered by idol girl group Sunmyu as its debut song in 2013.)[8]


The Sun Music Building, located in Yotsuya, Tokyo

On April 8, 1986, Okada was found with a slashed wrist in her gas-filled Tokyo apartment, crouching in a closet and crying.[3] She was discovered by a rescue team called in by the apartment's manager after other residents noticed the smell of gas. Okada's manager eventually arrived and took her to nearby Kita Aoyama Hospital [ja], where her injuries were treated.[citation needed]

In a 2016 article on the Asahi Weekly, Sun Music former managing director[9] Tokio Fukuda recalled that Sun Music founder Hideyoshi Aizawa called him to pick up Okada from the hospital. When he met her, she was crying softly. He then asked her where she wanted to go: to her parents' home in Nagoya, her apartment, or the office. She replied that the office was good, so she was brought to the sixth floor of the Sun Music building. Aizawa then called Fukuda, leading him to step out.

While Fukuda, the management director and the staff were discussing how to avoid a media scandal,[7] Okada ran to the stairs, took off her shoes and jumped from the seven-story Sun Music building, resulting in instant death. It was 12:15 PM JST.[3][4]

The reason for the suicide is still unknown. Okada was reported to have been "[u]pset and depressed about an unhappy love affair",[10] with an actor described to be "old enough to be her father",[3] Tōru Minegishi,[11] a co-star in Kinjirareta Mariko. Minegishi said that "he thought of her more as a younger sister".[11] When asked if a relationship with an actor (who the article cited did not name) was the cause, Fukuda replied that he did not know.[7]

Okada's remains were cremated,[3] and were interred at the Jōman-ji Temple, Aisai, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.[2]


Her fans were shocked and shattered by her untimely death. It resulted in many copycat suicides in Japan,[10] soon christened with the neologism "Yukiko Syndrome"[10] or "Yukko Syndrome."[12][3] By 26 April 1986, 23 out of 36 youth suicides since Okada died were committed by also jumping off a building.[13]

In turn, it has been suggested that Okada may have had in mind idol Yasuko Endō, who also committed suicide by falling from a rooftop ten days earlier.[12][3]

A ninth single, scheduled for release on 14 April 1986, was postponed on fears of more suicides.[3] The single, "花のイマージュ" (Hana no Image), was eventually released.[citation needed]

Mariya Takeuchi covered three of the songs she wrote for Okada on her fortieth anniversary album Turntable. A compilation album of all eleven songs Takeuchi wrote for Okada, Yukiko Okada Mariya's Songbook, was released in 2019,[5][6] and debuted at no. 13 on the Oricon Weekly Album Chart on October 28, 2019.[14]

In the July 30, 2017 edition of the Chunichi Sport, it was mentioned that on July 29, 2017, a fan meeting was held at the 9th floor of the Tokai Radio Headquarters in Nagoya to celebrate what would have been the 50th birthday of Yukiko Okada in August 2017. Entitled "Sing again! Yukko!", this was organized by 'Dotore Yamaguchi's Dokidoki Radio', '84/ Dr. Sato Yamaguchi in cooperation with Tokai Radio Magazine House, Pony Canyon, and Sun Music. It was a time to remember the life of Yukiko Okada through pictures presentation and songs and displayed other memorabilia.



  • "First Date" (1984) Glico's Cafe Jelly jingle
  • "Little Princess" (1984)
  • "Dreaming Girl-Koi, Hajimemashite" (1984) Glico's "Special Chocolate" jingle
  • "Futari Dake no Ceremony" (1985) Toshiba's "Let's Chat" jingle
  • "Summer Beach" (1985) Glico's Cafe Jelly jingle
  • "Kanashii Yokan" (1985)
  • "Love Fair" (1985) Glico's Cecil Chocolate jingle
  • "Kuchibiru Network" (1986) Kanebo's lipstick commercial
  • "Hana no Image" (1986) [released posthumously]
  • "Believe in You" (strings version 2002) [released posthumously]


  • Cinderella (シンデレラ) (1984)
  • Okurimono (贈りもの, Gift) (Compilation Album) (1984)
  • Fairy (1985)
  • Jyūgatsu no Ningyo (十月の人魚, October Mermaid) (1985)
  • Okurimono II (贈りものII, Gift II) (Compilation Album) (1985)
  • Venus Tanjō (ヴィーナス誕生, Birth of Venus) (1986)

Posthumous albums

  • Memorial Box (メモリアルBOX) (First compilation and box set to be released since her death. Includes her two Okurimino compilations, her final album "Venus Tanjou", and the previously unreleased single, "Hana no Image" coupled with "Himitsu no Symphony".) (1999)
  • Okurimono III (贈りものIII, Gift III) (Box set containing all her four albums plus non-album singles, DVD including promo videos, and other previously unreleased material.) (2002)
  • All Songs Request (Compilation with tracks selected by fans through a voting website.) (2002)
  • The Premium Best (ザ・プレミアムベスト) (Compilation album of her all her eight released singles and b-sides plus "Hana No Image" and the 2003 strings version of "Believe in You". Also includes an extra karaoke disc of all mentioned tracks.) (2012)
  • Golden☆Idol (ゴールデン☆アイドル) (Compilation album of all her eight released singles and b-sides plus her unreleased ninth single and b-sid.e) (2014)
  • Present (プレゼント) (Compilation album of non-album tracks except for b-sides of singles from previously existing albums. Released as part of her Hi-Res album reissue campaign.) (2015)
  • Yukiko Okada Mariya's Songbook (posthumous compilation album of songs sung by Yukiko Okada written and composed by Mariya Takeuchi) (CD released October 16, 2019, Analog LP released April 20, 2020)[15][16]



  • Memories in Switzerland (2002) (Pony Canyon) - A compilation of the above two videos on a single DVD.


  1. ^ a b "竹内まりやも「希有な存在」と評す 没後30年、岡田有希子とは何だったのか" [Mariya Takeuchi also describes her as a "rare being" 30 years after her death, who was Yukiko Okada?] (in Japanese). Weekly Asahi (published April 15, 2016). April 8, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "岡田有希子、没後30年 南野陽子が「"ゴミ箱"が私だった」と思い出語る" [Yukiko Okada, 30 years after her death; Yoko Minamino recalls, "Her trash can was me"] (in Japanese). Weekly Asahi (published April 15, 2016). April 8, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i William Wetherall, "The suicide of Okada Yukiko: Japanese youth and the Yukko Syndrome", Far Eastern Economic Review, July 17, 1986
  4. ^ a b Pulvers, Roger (September 20, 2009). "Now suicide has become a political issue, how will Japan address it?". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "伝説のアイドル・岡田有希子のソングブックアルバムが異例のヒット! 在りし日の姿が甦るトレーラー映像も大好評" [The songbook album of the legendary idol Yukiko Okada is an exceptional hit! The trailer video that revives the appearance of the past day is also very popular] (in Japanese). M-ON! MUSIC. October 24, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "岡田有希子さん×竹内まりやコンピ盤10・16発売「心から嬉しく思います」" [Yukiko Okada x Mariya Takeuchi compilation album 10/16 released "I'm really happy"] (in Japanese). ORICON MUSIC. October 28, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c 藤村かおり (August 12, 2016). "「愛情をください」と訴えた岡田有希子 死の直前、シクシク泣いて「事務所へ行きたい」" [Yukiko Okada complained, "please love me", just before her death, she cried, and "I want to go to the office"] (in Japanese). Weekly Asahi (published August 19, 2016). Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  8. ^ 鈴木亮 (August 25, 2016). "昭和の王道アイドル路線 さんみゅ~、シニアを魅了" (in Japanese). The Nikkei. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  9. ^ "サンミュージック波乱の50年 引きずった岡田有希子の死「お父さんの一言に救われた」" [50 years of Sun Music upheaval, Yukiko Okada's death, "I was saved by a word from her father"] (in Japanese). Oricon News. November 11, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c John Greenless, Paradox ò Japan Epidemic of suicides among young people, The Glasgow Herald – 11. Apr. 1987, page 37
  11. ^ a b "Actor Minegishi Toru Dies at 65". October 13, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Japanese Society Since 1945 by Edward R. Beauchamp, Taylor & Francis, 1998, ISBN 0-8153-2732-3, trang 97
  13. ^ "High School Girl Found Burned to Death in Apparent Suicide". Associated Press. April 26, 1986. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  14. ^ "オリコン週間 アルバムランキング 2019年10月14日~2019年10月20日 11~20位" [Oricon Week Album Ranking October 14, 2019-October 20, 2019 11th-20th] (in Japanese). ORICON NEWS. October 28, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  15. ^ "岡田有希子さん×竹内まりやコンピ盤10・16発売「心から嬉しく思います」".
  16. ^ "岡田有希子 Mariya's Songbook 2019年10月16日発売|復刻版「贈りものIII」2019年9月11日発売|特典クリアファイルが付いて発売決定".

External links[edit]

Preceded by Japan Record Award for Best New Artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Good-Bye
FNS Music Festival for Best New Artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Good-Bye, Sayuri Iwai, Yasuko Kuwata
Shinjuku Music Festival for Gold Prize
1984 (with : Koji Kikkawa)
Succeeded by
Shigeyuki Nakamura, Minako Honda
Preceded by
The Good-Bye
Ginza Music Festival for Grand Prix
Succeeded by