Hitomi Shimatani posing in CDData 2006
|Name: Hitomi Shimatani
Birthday: September 4th 1980
Star Sign: Virgo
Height: 161 cm
Blood Type: O type
Hobbies: Karaoke, shopping, movies
Record Label: avex trax
Talent Agency: PROCEED
Hitomi Shimatani is a relatively popular singer in the J-Pop scene, who has made her debut back then in 1999. Apart from being a singer, Hitomi is a popular television personality and is an actress. She has a reputation of having powerful vocals and her beauty has labelled her as being one of the most beautiful personalities in Japan. Her trademark is her long hair.
Despite the fact that she is not extremely popular and is not one of avex’s biggest source of revenue, Hitomi still manages to attract a fair amount of attention. She has her personal fanclub called Eye-Land. Hitomi’s personality is rather well mannered and she is a compliant woman to work with, according to those who have done so. Hitomi frequents many music and radio programmes, just because she an interesting person. For these reasons she has made a lot of friendships and connections with various personalities, most notably the illustrious actress Yukie Nakama and Ryoko Kuninaka.
The story of her rise to fame is quite interesting. Shimatani Hitomi was discovered among 200,000 contestants in The Japan Audition 1997. She auditioned as one of many young women and talent directors kept noticing how much she stood out from the rest of the girls in the group. Her face was very captivating. Her dancing was minimally good at best but her voice had a very clear and good range. They decided that she was good enough for Enka.
After graduating from high school in 1999, she made the all-important move to Tokyo and started lessons to polish her for her show business debut. In July 1999, she released her first enka single, Osaka no Onna. With her debut single, Hitomi managed to do something that no newcomer ever managed to do: she got the top spot at the Oricon Enka Charts. By the end of the year Hitomi would win two Best Newcomer Awards. The 32nd annual Nihon Yuusen Taishou Newcomer of the Year Award would be the most prestigious award she would earn in her early years of her career.
Hitomi had managed to attract the attention of many people and for this reason her managers realised that she was so pretty that she could attract not just the mature audience, but also the younger generation too. Thus they started to prepare for her pop debut, which took over a year to come to life. The rest is history.
Her pop music debut, Kaihoku, came out on September 27 of 2000, debuting at a modest #28 on the Oricon chart. A little over four months later, on February 7, 2001, she released her second single, “Papillon“. This song also failed to break into the top 20 in its opening week of release, but it made up for that fact by enjoying a very long chart life. This song was a cover of Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter”, which eventually worked up to #14 on Oricon in April, and it achieved hit status when it broke the quarter-million sales mark in June. It also introduced the Japanese to one of the most memorably unique pop refrains in recent times, combining words of greeting from a wide variety of foreign languages.
She released one more single at the end of May, “Ichiba ni Ikou“, before putting out her debut album, also “Papillon” on June 27th. This album was a Latin-flavoured collection, which also contained a cover of a Jennifer Lopez song which was titled “Motto“. Riding on the popularity of its’ title track, it scored a #7 ranking on the Oricon album charts in its’ first week. To date it has sold 147,000 copies, which is a very good result for a debut album. Three months later Hitomi would release her final single of 2001, “Yasashii Kiss no Mitsukekata“, which would rank at #17 and gain modest sales. Hitomi was slowly but surely on the way of becoming a popular artist.
In 2002, Hitomi would become a well established artist and start releasing a series of hits. Her first single in 2002, “Shanti” would become a moderate hit. However her following single, “Ama-iro no Kami no Otome” would become a huge hit, selling 375,000 copies and would garner a lot of attention all over Japan. This single would end to be so popular, that avex would release a remix single “Ama-iro Maxi” at the request of her fans. Hitomi’s schedule became extremely hectic. She would release her second album, “Shanti“, which would sell 433,000 copies and would become her highest selling studio album and her first #1 release. In November, Hitomi would release her first mini-album “Poinsettia”, which would be conceptualized for the Christmas season. If this was not enough, Hitomi would also perform her first live event in Shibuya and Hitomi would travel to Hawaii in order to release her first photobook. Finally Hitomi would be invited to the prestigious Kohaku event for the first time.
In 2003, Hitomi would steadily continue working hard on her musical career. She would start releasing music with a hint of ethnicity, which would prove to be fairly popular with the audience. Her most prominent release would be the hit single “Perseus“, with an Eastern melody. This song would become a signature song of Hitomi. It would also become Hitomi’s first attempt at more advanced dancing with a set choreography. Two months later, Hitomi would release her third studio album “Gate ~ Scena III ~“, which would rank at #2 on Oricon and sell almost 200,000 copies. This album was heavily influenced by ethnic music, especially Latin. In autumn of the same year, Hitomi would also receive a very important tie-in with the Doraemon Movie, “Nobita’s Wannyan Space-Time Legend” and this would become her first single geared towards children. Finally in December, Hitomi would release her best compilation which would sell well over 462,668 copies. This would also be her first album which would include a DVD Version.
Shimatani herself admits that she loves music because of the way that singing allows her to assume different roles, by expressing the feelings of characters whose personalities differ from her own. This inclination probably led Hitomi to start her acting debut in 1999 with the dorama “Tetsu niisan“. Two years later Hitomi would play the part of a rock singer called Akira in “Shinjukuzame Koorimai“. She was the love interest of veteran star Tachi Hiroshi, acting as Detective Samejima. A lot of fuss was made by the media about a steamy kiss scene between the two that took place in the drama, but Shimatani was fonder of Tachi for his kindness and the various things he taught her about the art of performing in front of the camera. Shimatani found this acting experience captivating, stating that if the chance presented itself, she would love to do it again. She got her wish in August 2002, when she got to appear in one episode of the NTV summer serial drama “Tantei Kazoku“, playing the lead singer of an idol trio being stalked by a mysterious assailant. Later on in 2003, she would get cast in “Boku dake no Madonna“, where she would meet Koizumi Koutaro. The curious thing is that she would end up dating him both in the dorama and in real life, according to rumors. Three years later, she would be invited to act in “Damens Walker” and she would also make her debut in the movie industry in “The Prince Of Tennis – The Movie” as Ryuzaki Sumire.
2004 was looking rather bleak when the first two singles failed to sell over 30,000 copies. However, in August, Hitomi would release the Inuyasha tie-in “ANGELUS“, which would become a hit. This single was quite appealing to many fans because Hitomi took up the sexy image for the first time. A month later, Hitomi would release her 4th studio album, “Tsuioku + Love Letter“, which would sell relatively well. For this reason, Hitomi would have her first concert tour.
The following year would be a rather experimental year for Hitomi Shimatani. She would release her first urban single “Garnet Moon“, which would become a huge hit. Hitomi’s image would be more mature and sexy and she would also perform a rather polished choreography. However a month later, Hitomi would surprise her fans with her special concept album, “Crossover“, which would follow a classical direction. Despite the low sales Hitomi would create her own genre called “crossover”, which would be a hybrid between dance-pop music and classical melodies. Although her sales took a downward spiral, Hitomi received a lot of attention from the classical communities and she would be invited to perform in numerous concerts. Hitomi Shimatani’s 20th single was the last single she’d release in 2005. On the 12th October, she released an album titled “Heart & Symphony“, which would earn awards for its’ dramatic elements. avex would also rearrange her older hits and sing them in her “Crossover” concerts. She would also sing her “Ama-iro no Kami no Otome“, with a crossover rearrangement in the Kohaku event.
“I shall sing with a lot of emotion on the the last day which rounds off the year”
In the following year, Hitomi would release three singles which would fail to become hits. However her “Destiny -Taiyou no Hana-/Koimizu -tears of love“, would attract the attention of many international fans and would become her best representation for her “crossover” genre. She would also return to her ethnic roots with the Latin-inspired single “PASIO“. After failing to attract the attention of the Japanese audience, Hitomi would record a duet single with Masayuki Suzuki in January. In February Hitomi would release her first rock single, “Dragonfly” but these singles would also get rather low sales. Finally in May, Hitomi would release her 6th studio album “PRIMA ROSA“. This album has only sold 15,218 copies to date, which would become her lowest selling album. However, Hitomi is not discouraged and she is already busy working on her following single, which is set to be the NTV’s wrestling relay theme song.
On a final note, if any of you readers desire to learn more about Hitomi Shimatani and her career, feel free to visit Crossover, which is a community dedicated to this talented artist.