Meet the Queens of J-Pop: Ayumi Hamasaki, Utada Hikaru, Namie Amuro + More
From cuisine to fashion to entertainment (Pokémon, anyone?), the East Asian island nation of Japan has delivered some of the most beloved cultural exports the world over. High up on that list: J-pop.
The Japanese music industry is constantly evolving and changing. In the '90s and early '00s, sleek R&B, pop-rock and energetic DDR-worthy techno-pop from the legendary likes of Utada Hikaru, Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki ruled the airwaves.
Today, the recipe for J-pop contains an assortment of diverse sonic ingredients; the scene bubbles over with the bright, manic electro-pop of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the glossy EDM of Perfume, the (adorably) aggressive speed metal of BABYMETAL, and sugary-sweet bops of countless idol groups like AKB48. There are even a few pop stars who, technically, don't really even exist—at least not in the flesh.
As trends continue to shift in the realm of Japanese pop, a few things stay the same: the reigning queens of contemporary J-pop continue to rule—album after album, year after year.
Get acquainted with the ultimate women of J-pop by clicking through our gallery, above. Dou itashimashite! (Yeah, you're welcome.)