Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Ayumi Hamasaki

“Ayu” is instantly recognisable for her unfeasibly large eyes, which some tabloids suggest are surgically enhanced.

A master of self-promotion, she has patiently built her reputation by frequently changing her clothes and hairstyle (she’s responsible for Japan’s cowboy hat craze).

By writing her own lyrics, she has managed to set herself apart from the legions of other “idols”, and made herself one of Asian music’s top earners.

Most of her fans have no idea about the seedy “acting” and “modeling” jobs the 14-year-old Hamasaki used to kick-start her career.

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