Hitomi Shimatani

Hitomi Shimatani bigraphy, stories - Japanese singer

Hitomi Shimatani : biography

September 4, 1980 –

, is a female pop singer signed to the Avex Trax label.

Shimatani started her career as an Enka singer with the release of her debut single in 1999, but later decided to get into the dance/pop style for her music. Shimatani’s music has also appeared in video games and also anime series.


Early life

At the age of seventeen, while still in high school, Shimatani attended "The Japan Audition 1997", where she was chosen as the winner out of around 200,000 people and got a recording contract with the Avex label. After this she continued her studies in high school in Hiroshima, although she started to take vocal lessons in Tokyo during the weekends. She graduated from Shimizugaoka High School.

1999 – 2002: Debut and mainstream success

Her first single, entitled "Ōsaka no Onna" which was an enka song, was released in 1999 on the Avex Trax label. The single went to the top of the Oricon’s Enka charts and much critical acclaim, but failed to chart within the Top 40 of the mainstream charts, selling rather poorly. "Ōsaka no Onna" became then Shimatani’s only enka single, as since her second one, "Kaihōku", she turned into more mainstream pop influences.

Mainstream success did not come until 2001 with the release of Shimatani’s third single, "Papillon", a Japanese version of Janet Jackson’s song "Doesn’t Really Matter". The single became her first Top 15 single in the Oricon charts, and eventually stayed within the Top 50 for twenty weeks, selling over 200,000 copies. Her sixth single "Shanty", which was used as theme song of TBS’ TV drama Pretty Girls, became her first Top 10 single in the Japanese charts, peaking at number seven. In May 2002 she released another cover, this time of "Amairo no Kami no Otome" by the 60’s group sounds band Village Singers. The song became a massive success, peaking at number 4 and leading to a "boom of covers" in Japan . It also became one of the most preferred songs to be sung in karaokes by Japanese people (it stayed at the top position of the Oricon Karaoke charts for 18 weeks, and it took the first position of its yearly charts). At the end of this successful year, Shimatani was invited for the first time to the most important Japanese TV show of New Years’ Eve, the Kōhaku Uta Gassen on the NHK channel. From this time she would be invited to be in the show for another 3 years in a row.

In 2003 she debuted as an actress in the Fuji TV drama Boku dake no Madonna, where she was given one of the main roles, and also made a debut as voice actress in the animated movie Doraemon: Nobita in the Wan-Nyan Spacetime Odyssey. In 2004 she also participated in her first musical, A Star is Born, along with Yukie Nakama and Eriko Imai .

2005 – present: Pop to classical crossover

In February 2005, Shimatani released her first concept album, "Crossover", which marked a sustained shift her music, from mainstream J-pop to classical-influenced tunes. Since then her music has been heavily influenced by string instruments and pianos, instead of electric guitars, bass and keyboards, and also started to include some world ethnic elements. The first album released under this new style was "Heart & Symphony", which featured four singles including "Garnet Moon" -theme song of Playstation 2’s Another Century’s Episode– and "Falco" -theme song of The Law of Ueki-. The album peaked at number 7 on the Oricon charts.

In 2007 she recorded a cover of Vanessa Hudgens’ song "When There Was Me And You" (in Japanese entitled "Anata to Ita Toki") from the hit Disney film High School Musical, which was included in the Japanese special edition of the movie’s soundtrack released in January. On March 7, 2007, Shimatani released her 6th studio album, Prima Rosa, which featured the singles "Haru Machibito", "Camellia", "Destiny: Taiyō no Hana" (opening theme of Black Jack 21), "Koimizu: Tears of Love", "Pasio" and "Dragonly". This year she also starred in the live action film of the The Prince of Tennis as the character of Sumire Ryuzaki.

On December 5, 2007, Shimatani released her first cover album, Otoko Uta ~cover song collection~, on which she only recorded covers originally sung by male artists, such as Anzen Chitai, Begin and Masayoshi Yamazaki. For the album she also made a new crossover version of "Amairo no Kami no Otome", which she performed live at that year’s Kōhaku. This year she was also In chosen to play the lead role of Anne Shirley during the touring performance of Anne of Green Gables in Japan.

After releasing her 27th single "Nakitai Nara" in March 2008, Tokyograph announced that Shimatani’s song titled "Wake You Up" is to be the theme song of K-tai Investigator 7, which started airing in early April 2008, while just a few days later the news about "Wrestling Asia Senshuken 2008" program came out, saying that Shimatani will be doing yet another song for it, "Marvelous" (the previous one was "Neva Eva" which was released back in 2007). These songs were later released in Shimatani’s first triple A-side single, "Wake You Up/Ame no Hi ni wa Ame no Naka wo, Kaze no Hi ni wa Kaze no Naka wo/Marvelous", released in June 2008.

On July 16, 2008, Hitomi released her seventh studio album, Flare. On March 4, 2009, she released her thirtieth single, SMILES, which is being used as the theme song for the drama Parallel, in which Shimatani herself stars.

In July 2009 she celebrated her tenth anniversary in music releasing the greatest hits album "Best & Covers", and also holding a special live concert in the Itsukushima Shrine.

In 2011, Shimatani became part of the rock musical Rock of Ages, along with other musicians such as Takanori Nishikawa and Misono. On October 1, 2011, Hitomi started her own radio program called Eyes on Me in FM Yokohama.