Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Ken Hirai

Ken Hirai is the king of Japanese R&B, one of J-pop’s booming genres. Although he is a “pure-blooded” Japanese, his curly hair and distinctively Caucasian profile set him apart from other J-Pop singers.

He released his debut album, ‘un-balanced’, in 1995. One of his singles was used as the theme for a popular TV drama, generating sufficient attention for him to rush out a second album, ‘Stare At’, the following year.

Unhappy with this situation, Hirai took a 4-year break (potentially fatal for the career of a new singer) before releasing ‘The Changing Same’ in 2000. This album, particularly lead single ‘Rakuen’, earned him renewed popularity across Asia.

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