Suzuka Nakamoto by Drew de F Fawkes – Wikimedia Commons
Japan is a country that has long been associated with music. From the traditional sounds of the koto and taiko drums to the more modern pop and rock of today, Japanese music has something for everyone.
And when it comes to singers, Japan has produced some truly talented and famous performers over the years. Its musical heritage is extensive and diverse, ranging from traditional folk music to J-Pop’s global ascension to stardom.
The history of music in Japan is rich and varied, from its traditional folk music to JPop’s global takeover. In this article, we feature the 10 most famous Japanese singers.
1. Suzuka Nakamoto
Suzuka Nakamoto, known by her stage names Suzuka and Su-metal (both stylized in all caps), is a Japanese musician, singer, and model. She is best known as a member of the kawaii metal band Babymetal. She is represented by the talent agency Amuse, Inc. and has been a member of three musical groups formed by the company: Karen Girl’s, Sakura Gakuin, and Babymetal.
In the spring of 2013, Nakamoto graduated from junior high school and therefore had to graduate from Sakura Gakuin (which limits girls up to junior high age). Her graduation concert was held on March 31 at the Tokyo International Forum. Suzuka now performs with Babymetal, which had been spun off from Sakura Gakuin following her graduation, under the stage name Su-metal.
Babymetal’s self-titled debut album was released in February 2014. Nakamoto ranked ninth place on the Oricon News ranking for 2018 Rankings for Anticipation of New Adults, commenting on her overwhelming singing ability.
2. Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono at the ELIA Biennial Conference in Vienna by Gregor Tatschl – Wikimedia Commons
Yoko Ono is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, songwriter, and peace activist. Her work also encompasses performance art and filmmaking. Ono grew up in Tokyo and moved to New York City in 1953 with her family. Ono began a career in popular music in 1969, forming the Plastic Ono Band with Lennon and producing a number of avant-garde music albums in the 1970s.
Ono achieved commercial and critical acclaim in 1980 with the chart-topping album Double Fantasy, a collaboration with Lennon that was released three weeks before his murder, winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. To date, she has had twelve number-one singles on the US Dance charts, and in 2016 was named the 11th most successful dance club artist of all time by Billboard magazine. Many musicians have paid tribute to Ono as an artist in her own right and as a muse and icon.
3. Hiroshi Kamayatsu
Hiroshi “Monsieur” Kamayatsu was a Japanese singer and guitarist born in Tokyo. He became a member of the Spiders in the early 1960s, serving as both a guitarist and a vocalist.
After the band disbanded, Kamayatsu moved on to pursue a solo career. He wrote the song “Waga Yoki Tomoyo” i.e My Good Acquaintance, which tells the story of a rough and unrefined college friend, and it became a big hit.
Hyde, Vamps vocalist in 2013 by May S. Young – Wikimedia Commons
Hideto Takarai, known by his stage name Hyde, is a Japanese musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. Best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band L’Arc-en-Ciel since 1991, he is also the lead vocalist of Vamps and has a solo career.
Hyde rose to fame in the 1990s as part of L’Arc-en-Ciel, who have sold over 40 million records and were the first Japanese act to perform a solo show at Madison Square Garden. He began a successful solo career in 2001, releasing several number one singles, and many of his albums have reached the top five on the Oricon chart. In 2008, Hyde teamed up with K.A.Z to form the hard rock duo Vamps. Through both his solo career and Vamps, Hyde has collaborated and toured with various artists.
5. Kōji Wada
Kōji Wada was a Japanese pop singer. He was best known for performing theme songs for several installments of the Digimon anime television series, including his recording debut in 1999 with his first and most famous single, “Butter-Fly”, the theme song of the anime Digimon Adventure.
In July 2007, Wada made his first show in Brazil, doing a solo presentation and singing along with other invited Japanese singers on the Anime Friends. This happened one year after Ayumi Miyazaki visited Brazil for another convention “ExpoAnime Brasil”. He also visited the state of Rio Grande does Sul in Brazil on October 14, 2007, during the Anima Weekend event.
On December 15–16, 2007, he made a live presentation at the “Anime Festival XL” event in Santiago, Chile. In August 2008, he released a mini-album named ever, which contains five original songs, with four of them composed and written by himself.
Miyavi at the Winter NAMM Show 2018 by Justin Higuchi – Wikimedia Commons
Takamasa Ishihara better known by his stage name Miyavi is a Japanese guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor known for his finger-slapping style of playing guitar.
Miyavi has been active since 1999, first as guitarist for the now-defunct visual kei rock band Dué le quartz and then as a solo artist starting in 2002. In 2007, he became a member of the rock supergroup S.K.I.N. and in 2009 founded his own company, J-glam. He toured worldwide several times, with over 250 shows in 30 countries as of 2015. As of 2016, he released ten solo albums and 27 singles.
7. Sakura Miyawaki
Sakura Miyawaki is a Japanese singer and actress. She began her music career with the girl group HKT48 in 2011 and was a concurrent member of their sister group AKB48 from 2014 to 2018. During her tenure, she held center positions for the singles Kimi wa Melody and No Way Man.
Miyawaki took a hiatus from HKT48 in 2018 after placing second in the reality competition show Produce 48, joining the South Korea-based girl group Iz*One. After the group’s dissolution in 2021, she graduated from the 48 system that same year and began to focus on activities in South Korea. She signed an exclusive contract with Source Music in 2022 and became a member of their girl group Le Sserafim.
On March 14, 2022, Miyawaki, alongside former Iz One member Kim Chae-won, signed exclusive contracts with Source Music, and debuted as members of Le Sserafim in May. On March 21, 2022, Japanese talent agency A.M. Entertainment confirmed through their official website that she had joined the agency for her individual activities in Japan. On May 2, 2022, Le Sserafim made their debut with the extended play, Fearless.
8. Hikaru Utada
Utada Hikaru by Hikaru Utada Laughter in the Dark Tour 2018 – Wikimedia Commons
Hikaru Utada, who is also known by the mononym Utada, is a Japanese-American pop singer, songwriter, and producer. By 2010, Utada had become one of the most influential, and best-selling, musical artists in Japan.
By the end of the 2000s, Utada was deemed the most influential artist of the decade in the Japanese music landscape by The Japan Times. Commercial success has made her one of Japan’s top-selling recording artists of all time with over 50 million records sold since launching her career in the late 1990s. Twelve of her singles have reached number one on the Oricon Singles Chart, while ten albums have become chart-toppers. Six of her full-length releases are among the country’s highest-selling albums of all time, including First Love, Distance, and Deep River, which are among the top ten best-selling records in Japan’s music history.
9. Kōji Tamaki
Kōji Tamaki is a Japanese singer-songwriter and actor. He has been well known as the frontman of the rock band Anzen Chitai which debuted in 1982 and enjoyed a successful career, particularly during the 1980s. In 1993, he began his career as a solo artist, and since then he has experienced much critical acclaim.
Tamaki is regarded as one of the greatest Japanese vocalists, in 2014 he was ranked first by a panel of 200 experts for the best ever singing voice in Japan. Moreover, in June 2021 Koji was voted as the greatest active male Japanese singer, with 190 experts agreeing that he is a living national treasure of music and that he portrays an unparalleled mass of expressiveness and emotion which only seems to get better with age.
10. Ayumi Hamasaki
Ayumi Hamasaki is a Japanese singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, model, spokesperson, and entrepreneur. Throughout her entire career, she has written all her lyrical content and has sometimes composed her music.
Hamasaki has sold over 60.94 million units as of 2019, making her the best-selling Japanese solo artist in history. Hamasaki has several domestic record achievements for her singles, such as the most number-one hits by a female artist; the most consecutive number-one hits by a solo artist (25), and the most million-sellers. From 1999 to 2010, Hamasaki had at least two singles each year topping the charts. Hamasaki is the first female recording artist to have ten studio albums since her debut to top the Oricon and the first artist to have a number-one album for 13 consecutive years since her debut.
Who is the most popular Japanese singer? ›
The best-selling artists by number of singles sold are AKB48 (50.8 million), B'z (35.8 million) in second place, Mr. Children (28.45 million) in third place, and Southern All Stars (25.179 million) in fourth place.What are the top 5 Japanese songs to sing? ›
- “Flavor of Life” – Hikaru Utada.
- “Ai Uta” – GReeeeN.
- “Soba ni lru ne” – Thelma Aoyama.
- “Qba-Q Ondo” – Machiko Soga.
- “Ginza No Koi No Monogatari” – Yujiro Ishihara and Shunko Makimura.
The current number-one on the chart as of the issue dated December 28, 2022, is "Subtitle" by Official Hige Dandism.Who is the most popular Japanese singer 2022? ›
Aimer, SixTONES and YOASOBI are leading in their respective categories on Billboard Japan's 2022 mid-year charts, rounding up the weeks of Nov. 29, 2021 through May 29, 2022.Who are the top 10 popular singers? ›
- Adele: Adele: Instagram. ...
- Billie Eilish: Billie Eilish: Instagram. ...
- Taylor Swift: Taylor Swift: Instagram. ...
- Ed Sheeran: Ed Sheeran: Instagram. ...
- Olivia Rodrigo: Olivia Rodrigo: Instagram. ...
- Drake: Drake: Instagram. ...
- Doja Cat: Doja Cat: Instagram. ...
- Mariah Carey:
|Popularity ranking||Artist||Tour dates|
1) BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen
But let's face it, Bohemian Rhapsody is just impossible to sing by yourself because of those multiple voices that are essential to the song.
"W/X/Y" by Tani Yuuki was the most popular streaming song in Japan in 2022, with more than 328 million streamings recorded in the period from November 2021 to November 2022.What are the 2 popular music of Japan? ›
Music is central in a much of Japanese theatre. The two main forms are Noh and Kabuki. Noh can be traced back to the Heian period (794-1192); its otherworldly dance-drama performances, passed down through generations, have remained largely unchanged.Who is the #1 artist of all time? ›
Top-selling artists worldwide as of 2022. Perhaps unsurprisingly, British rock band The Beatles are top of the list for best-selling artists worldwide, with 183 million units certified sales. Second is Garth Brooks with over 157 million units sales, followed by Elvis Presley with 139 million units.
Who is the #1 artist now? ›
Bad Bunny is Billboard's #1 artist of 2022, making history for Spanish-language artists. Bad Bunny continues to make history.Are any American shows popular in Japan? ›
In Japan, U.S. TV shows are popular, with even long-running hits such as "Columbo" still garnering viewers.What music is mostly played in Japan? ›
Leading music genres Japan 2020
According to a survey conducted in Japan in December 2020, almost 81 percent of the respondents liked Japanese pop, rock, or dance music.
Kokiriko Festival［Folk songs and Dances of Gokayama：Japan's oldest folk song “Kokiriko”］What is Japan's favorite number? ›
Like many countries throughout the world, Japan considers the number seven lucky.
Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai, better known simply as Hokusai, is the artist one knows without knowing him. The artist was an ukiyo-e and printmaker during the Edo period, who depicted the now incredibly famous images of Mt Fuji (an obsession of his), and The Great Wave to name just a couple.Who is World No 1 pop singer? ›
BTS currently holds the record for most consecutive weeks at number one with 180. Justin Bieber has spent 163 weeks at number one on the Billboard Social 50. Taylor Swift have spent 28 weeks at number one, the most by any female artist.Who are Top 10 artists? ›
- Ed Sheeran.
- The Weeknd.
- Taylor Swift.
- Harry Styles.
- Ariana Grande.
- The Beatles — 183 million units.
- Garth Brooks — 157 million units. ...
- Elvis Presley — 146.5 million units. ...
- Eagles — 120 million units. ...
- Led Zeppelin — 112.5 million units. ...
- Michael Jackson — 89 million units. ...
- Billy Joel — 85 million units. ...