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Hamasaki Ayumi BEAUTY 147
31 March. 2016. 17:00
Hamasaki Ayumi makes her fifth appearance in Numero TOKYO. This time, we focused on fuss-free, life-size shots that emphasize her beauty. This is Hamasaki Ayumi’s real face, before hairstyling and make-up. Her beautiful translucent skin has not changed since we first met her five years ago. When we asked her about her secret, this was her reply. “I’ve been using an all-in-one serum developed by Takano Yuuki-sensei, who does my eyelash extensions, and my skin condition has been great. It makes me feel as if I can go on for just a little longer!” We then asked, what is the first thing she does every morning? “I go onto the rooftop with my dogs, bathe in the sun, and smile. Bathing in sunlight each morning sets the day going at the right rhythm for me. It also affects the quality of my sleep. With age, I can feel the importance of maintaining a good rhythm in my daily cycle. And when my dogs wag their tails happily, it naturally brings a smile to my face too.”
see the real me. A confession from the heart of a songstress welcoming her 18th Anniversary. Hamasaki Ayumi’s now as an artiste
For years, Hamasaki Ayumi has exceeded her role of singer by being an all round entertainer, continuing to challenge herself by staging elaborate concerts. Testing her own limits, she hosted concerts of exceptional quality for her audience and fans. Now, she is 37 years old. Compared to 18 years ago, her longstanding symbols are her lovable nature, unchanging from how she was when she debuted 18 years ago, and her admirable beautiful skin. We present a beauty story based on Hamasaki Ayumi’s skin, so soft it begs to be touched.
She shared her latest skincare secret with us. “I tried using the bestselling cosmetics that are recommended for people my age, but in the end, I still returned to a simple skincare routine.” Since shedding her old skincare routine, she shared that more people have commented on her good skin condition.
Plump, cherry blossom tinted lips are one of Hamasaki Ayumi’s charms. Paired with clear skin, moist lips help to create a healthy look.
18 years since her debut, Hamasaki Ayumi has reached a state where she is “satisfied with life”. “In fact, there isn’t really anything I desire anymore. When I did the fanclub tour and performed in a concert staged to resemble a show, I suddenly realized how much I loved to sing. Of course, I still have a wish to grow as a singer and entertainer. That would all come together on stage. That is where I belong. But aside from that, there is nothing else I want.”
In order to create a concert that is up to her expectations, she determinedly took on a physical training regime. Exercise, training, and body conditioning are all part of her everyday routine.
The annual nationwide Arena Tour has kicked off again this year. With a highly-entertaining concert that is sure to be enjoyed even by non-fans, Hamasaki Ayumi has challenged herself to perform an aerial act. Due to the unexpected strain placed on her body, she has been leading the lifestyle of an athlete these days.
I definitely need a fair amount of muscle for that, so I can’t skimp on training for even a single day. I usually watch what I eat, but with the recent physical strain, I have gotten a new perspective on body care, and I have definitely adopted more healthy practices now as opposed to the past. (laugh)
When we asked about her secret to maintaining beautiful skin, she gave the following reply. “I tried using the bestselling cosmetics that are recommended for people my age, but in the end, I still returned to a simple skincare routine.” Recently, she had started using an all-in-one moisturizing serum developed by BONITO’s Takano-sensei, and many have complimented her about it.
This applies to physical training too. Do only what is essential. Overdoing things can be bad, so it’s important to know what your body and skin needs. With this return to basics, I have also changed my morning routine. I used to drink water when I first wake up, but now, I have started to add playtime with my dogs on the rooftop into my routine as well. No matter how busy I am, I won’t miss out on that. When I bathe in sunlight each morning, my body knows that it’s time to start a new day, and it becomes easy to adjust my body clock. With that, I am also able to get a good rest at night. I’ve come to consciously think about maintaining such daily cycles. (laugh) In fact, just a few days ago, I had stayed up all night for three consecutive nights due to work with recordings and the tour, and when I entered the recording booth and told myself to perform, I just lost my focus when the song came on, and I just wondered “Eh? What am I supposed to be doing now?” (laugh) I used to be able to push myself to do things without sleep or rest, but the consequences of doing that now have gotten worse, and it takes much longer for my body to return to optimum condition… Also, playing with my dogs brings a smile to my face, so I do that alot now. To wake up in the morning and go straight into work mode, like checking my phone or PC to know what I need to do for the day, who I need to talk to, who I need to get back to, just leaves no time for laughter, and I don’t think that’s good. First, I want to bathe in sunlight, then I want to smile. After that, I will begin my day. It may take up a little time, but it may be what my body needs.
When she talked about knowing what she really wants, it probably has something to do with what she said about being “satisfied with life”. In fact, she talked about this last year, right after her first fanclub tour in 12 long years.
In fact, there isn’t really anything I desire anymore. When I did the fanclub tour and performed in a concert staged to resemble a show, I suddenly realized how much I loved to sing. Of course, I still have a wish to grow as a singer and entertainer. That would all come together on stage. That is where I belong. But aside from that, there is nothing else I want.
These words came from a reflection after putting 18 years of effort into her songs and concerts. With that, we asked her what she envisioned herself to be like as an artiste, back when she first debuted.
Now that I think about it, I never had any idea what kind of artiste I wanted to be, or what kind of songs I wanted to sing… Rather than writing lyrics, it felt like I was penning down letters or a diary entry. My latest album is titled “MADE IN JAPAN”, which refers to myself, as well as the fact that this is where I am proud to be, where I love, where my everything is… So rather than how I wanted to be, it’s about how I can change what I have become. But when I was creating the album, what was on my mind were the things which cannot be changed. So it can’t be helped if it’s a little dark. (laugh) Because my job requires me to stand before people, I don’t have the chance to show that to others. I have to smile, have to act tough. I know I wasn’t required to do that, but I also didn’t want to share my thoughts with anyone, nor was I foolish enough to do so. So it means that the self I was at the beginning, during the “A Song for XX” era, is still basically the same self I am now, 18 years later… In this time, the things which I can’t tell anyone about have increased, so that darkness still remains… And I have no intention of telling these things to anyone in the future as well. But rather than carry all these burdens and being unbalanced by it, maybe I would be able to find peace by singing about them… The listener is free to find meaning in the songs, whether what I’m singing about is true, or whether the “me” or the “you” in the song is referring to ayu, or if the “you” is referring to the listener. But songs are my way of finding a balance in order to continue living strong, so singing about things actually fulfills me. And when I bring that song to a concert in the form of a show, I’ll get to see it from another perspective because I take on a self different from the me I was when I composed the song. However, the song is still written by me, so I’m still able to deliver its punchline. Through that, I’m able to have an output, and maybe that cleanses me and helps me to regain some balance. These ideas were running through my mind when I was creating this album.
She has showed us numerous snippets of the lyrics right after writing them. But the fact that these heartwrenching words and her smiles hide an unknown side to her pierces our hearts…
Whenever I finished a section of the lyrics, I thought to myself, “I wonder if this person is alright”, or “she seems to be embracing a very deep darkness”. (laugh) But I knew that it’s not anyone’s fault but my own. I’ve surely managed to question myself, and also to point out lots of mistakes in relation to myself and to our surroundings. I feel that I’ve thoroughly addressed some issues and corrected some wrongs. Sometimes, we blame our busy lives, or find these issues too complicated, or am afraid and let our fear of getting hurt take precedence, so we pretend not to see, and end up putting a lid on these ugly issues… But the regret of doing so lasts a lifetime, and we’ll never know what’s happened to these issues we’ve kept out of sight… This has happened too much in these 18 years, so maybe that’s why they took form as lyrics…
In March this year, the album “A BEST” which sold a total of 5 million copies, was released in a remastered version. It clearly showed an objective perspective of the woman who had journeyed more than a decade, something which the latest album does as well. On the other hand, the re-release of “A BEST” has attracted many comments from people who shared that they were “saved” or “supported” by the songs. How does ayu herself think of such comments?
To be honest, I really felt alienated by that. Of course, people would attach different memories to the works I create, and feel nostalgia or joy. Hearing about that makes me really happy, and I am glad to be the Hamasaki Ayumi who created those songs. However, there is another side of me… When everyone is reminiscing warmly about how a song makes them remember how much they used to love someone, I was at my lowest, coldest point. I’m the type who seldom writes about happy things, and coupled with the fact that I always remember exactly what state of mind I was in when I wrote each song, the few days before and after the re-release of “A BEST” was emotionally void for me. I wanted it all gone… I knew that I musn’t return to how I was then. There are things I need to do now, so I need to move on. I am living in the present, and I don’t want to be dragged back 15 years to the past. These were my dark thoughts. It’s different from when I perform the songs on stage, because that’s fine. On stage, I am an artiste, a performer, and I’m standing there for the sake of others. But at home, just the sight of “A BEST” makes me feel like I don’t need to exist for others, that I can just cry and rage all I want. However, I don’t want to do that, so the moment I got the CD, I just stuffed it into a corner of my shelf (laugh).
Will this latest album make you feel the same way a few years down the road?
I don’t think so. What has come out this time is the me I was when I was creating these songs, and this me has become an adult, and have grown so much thanks to various people, so I understand and am able to forgive much more now… The biggest difference is probably the fact that I am able to discern much more now, and that I was just too raw back then, so standing on stage and singing certain songs was really painful. No matter which self from that era I look back on, all I see is a person who was too raw and frank. Just like the very first tour, with Act 1 and Act 2 (laugh). I didn’t realize it until my friends told me, but I didn’t want the concert to come to an end, even though I used to retreat backstage the moment I finished singing. That tsundere side of me was just so amusing. I guess I just wanted to escape because I was afraid. I used to be like that… I still feel afraid sometimes, but the fear comes from responsibility now. In the past, it was just the fear of being watched by curious eyes. When I performed in the past, I always wondered if the audience were really there to listen to my songs, or just out of curiosity, to see who this “ayu” person really is. To be honest, I was lacking in confidence then. For example, when one of my hairstyles became a hot topic, I knew I was supposed to be glad, but I was just afraid, and wishing for people to stop looking at me… In the end, I tried not to appear in PVs, to render my CD jacket covers as drawings. It was a minor rebellion on my part. And then, for the “SEASONS” jacket cover, I was holding a torn photo of the drawing of “vogue”. That was also a small rebellion, because I felt that nobody really had any interest in me, that even if I disappeared tomorrow, they would just embrace someone new. It was also a barrier to stop myself from believing and anticipating, then getting hurt. Now, no matter what, I just let it pass me by. It no longer matters. I can’t let myself be hurt by such small things, so no matter what people say or do, I won’t be hurt anymore. I guess it’s better to say that I CAN’T be hurt anymore, because I now know what is the most important thing to me…
Maybe the most important thing to her now is to be Hamasaki Ayumi, and to deliver something via her songs and concerts. And the moments when this woman, who shares little about her private life, is most animated and happy, is definitely when she is at work.
There are a number of songs in “MADE IN JAPAN”‘s setlist which I’ve not performed in ages, which was surprising to my staff and dancers. I still want to entertain and let my audience have fun, but I also want it to resonate with people, that “yes, this is what our Japan is all about”. Even if they don’t like me, or they only know one song from my discography, I want to share Japan’s wonder with them. The theme this time will also talk about these strange times. About how anonymity is used to attack certain people. I think everyone can feel that things are really weird now, that things are spiraling out of control, that it is too much trouble to try to help others be happy… Just like the latest album, this tour will be really honest and straightforward in many ways. That is a reflection of how I am now.