Japanese Music: Natsukawa Rimi (夏川りみ)

Natsukawa Rimi (夏川りみ) is an Okinawan singer, best known for her 2001 single “Nada Sousou” (涙そうそう).

Born in Ishigaki, the largest city in the Yaeyama Islands chain, from a young age Natsukawa enjoyed singing, and wanted to be a singer after hearing her father sing Yaeyama folk songs. From 7 years old, she practised two hours everyday, with the help of her father, training her up to be an enka singer.

Since the age of 9 she won various singing contests and competitions, to finally win the Nagasaki Kayousai (長崎歌謡祭, Nagasaki Song Festival)‘s grand prize, being the youngest person to do so.

Having moved to Tokyo, Natsukawa started preparing for her debut, which would happen in 1989 as an enka singer with the name “Misato Hoshi”, under Pony Canyon. She released three singles in three years, and did not find much success.

With a feeling of defeat, she moved back to Okinawa, where she lived with her older sister in Naha, and helped out in her restaurant, singing for patrons daily. As patrons would travel quite a distance to hear her sing, she gradually regained her desire to be a singer.

After returning to the capital and signed under Victor Entertainment, she re-debuted with the single “Yuubae ni Yurete” (夕映えにゆれて, Swaying in the Sunset).

While watching the news broadcast of the 26th G8 summit held in Okinawa, Natsukawa watched a performance of Okinawan folk band Begin perform a song called “Nada Sousou”. She found she could not get it out of her head, and requested that she could cover the song backstage at a Begin concert. The song was released as her third single in March 2001.
Very slowly and steadily, the song started gaining popularity. It was a hit on Okinawan radio, and in May 2002 (over a year since its release) it first charted in the Oricon Top 100 singles charts.

Natsukawa was asked to perform the song at the 2002 Kōhaku Uta Gassen (New Year’s song competition), which made the song break the Top 10.

Natsukawa released a string of Okinawan song-based released from this time until 2004. One of these, “Warabigami (Yamatoguchi)” (童神~ヤマトグチ~ Little God (Standard Japanese)) (a Misako Koja cover), was nominated for the Japan Record Award. It was Natsukawa’s biggest hit since Nada Sousou, reaching the Top 20.

After centering in original songs until 2007, she started the “Song Search” project, where fans would suggest songs for her to cover. The result was the album Uta Sagashi: Request Cover Album, which become one of her most successful releases.
In 2010, she would release a second album of Uta Sagashi.

Enjoy her song “Nada Sousou” below!


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