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AYU’s home sweet home
15th debut Anniversary special campaign. Revealing her private residence for the first time!

Hamasaki Ayumi, my sweet home

Hamasaki Ayumi, who has started a new era in Japan’s entertainment industry, welcomes her 15th debut Anniversary this year. To her, a residence is not only a place where she can return to, but also a precious space where she spends “most of her life”. Similar to the building of her tour stage, she takes every detail into account, without compromise. All that she sees is beauty, then comfort… It is a sweet home built not from cold material, but things which hold feelings for her… It is something born from love, through the same process which took 15 years to produce “Hamasaki Ayumi”. Now Hamasaki Ayumi has allowed for a precious photoshoot to take place in this residence which she had put everything into, as part of her 15th debut Anniversary special campaign. In that private space, we see an innocent, honest diva which we can’t see anywhere else. After living at the frontline for the long period of 15 years, Hamasaki Ayumi tells us a story, packed with preciousness.

If success is measured by how much a person is able to face their dream and work for it, then Hamasaki Ayumi is definitely a successful person. In the long span of 15 years, the accumulated challenges and hard work she had faced probably surpasses whatever we can imagine. When we realize that this is the reality of a girl who bet it all on one song, we can’t help but be inspired by all that the artiste Hamasaki Ayumi has given to us. This “residence” which she lives in, in order to support her as the pop princess Hamasaki Ayumi, was completed with love, going through many trials until she was satisfied. In this sweet home, we can see the beauty of the human Hamasaki Ayumi, through her sense of aesthetics and stoicity, and the quiet and comfort she craves when away from work… Here, she stands in the garden where she always plays with her beloved dogs.


The “A Logo” above the fireplace in the living room. “I installed it on a whim.”



On the spiral staircase.


In the garden.


She has been running non-stop for 15 years since she was 19… This sweet home, proof of her success as a singer, is a reflection of the life-sized Hamasaki Ayumi, a person who chases after comfort and aesthetics.

“I’ve been concerned with the space I live in ever since I was a teenager. I was the type who would hold back on clothes, shoes, bags and make-up, just so that I could live comfortably. When I first came to Tokyo, I lived in a place resembling a dorm, which I couldn’t stand because it was basically quite run-down. So I threw myself into buying things to straighten up the place, and thinking about how to create a space where I could feel comfortable in. (laugh) That has stayed with me all this time, not only for my private space, but even the backstage rooms at the tour locations. Those who see it for the first time will probably get a shock. “Why is her backstage room like a personal bedroom?” I think that is a good example of how I am, the kind of person who, during the construction of this home, asked for things to be redone so many times that I couldn’t even remember it myself. The conversations I held with the contractors were as detailed as those I have with the tour stage builders, and no one pillar was compromised on. I myself bought more than 10 books on construction and read through them, came to the construction site many times personally, and explained what I wanted using the correct, professional terms. The workers laughed and commented that “no one would ever believe that Hamasaki Ayumi spoke to them in that manner”, but the conversations we had is a fond memory I have of those times.”

The sweet home was thus completed, and no matter where we did the photoshoot, she fitted in perfectly. It was as though “the house reflects the person living in it and their moods”, where the owner and the space synchronize to represent “the present which took 15 years to achieve”.

She revealed that “what I want from this home is a comfortable silence and a feeling of release”. She has not stopped running, but her current mental state is distinctly different from how it was during the 10th Anniversary, when her aim was to just stand tall and keep pressing onward. To resolve that, it is essential that she reflect on the tracks she had made these past 15 years.

“My clearest memory from when I first debuted in ’98 was the time when we made our rounds at the record stores, and the adults around me bowed their heads as they asked for everyone to “please support her”. I remembered thinking that “from now on, I’ll be starting out a new life as Hamasaki Ayumi”, and realizing that the airy dream which I’ve always had had become reality in an instant. An adult’s world which I’ve never seen, never known, an eye-boggling schedule to follow, an environment which I couldn’t tell left from right. But I didn’t want people to think that I was “just a 19-year old kid”, so I forced myself to stand on my own, and I felt that I had really grown up.”

Artistes who made their debut in ’98 include aiko, Utada Hikaru, Sheena Ringo, MISIA, and Morning Musume… In the midst of these big names, the one with the era’s charisma who soon stood out was “AYU”.

“The few years after my debut were really busy, so my memory of those years is patchy, especially for the period in 2003 when I was working on “ayu ready?”. That was also the time when I was the most troubled over the increasing gap between the me I know, and the me which the world thinks they know. I started to stay indoors more, and stopped wanting to meet people… Unable to cope with having virtually no private time as I was surrounded by people all 24 hours, I lost the ability to balance myself out.”

In 2000, she held Chapters 1 and 2 of her first ever nationwide Arena Tour. At the height of her popularity, with every CD release hitting the million sales mark, she was hit by acute deafness caused by loss of hearing in her inner ear.

“I still remember that moment. It was during the rehearsals for Chapter 2, as I was singing “SEASONS”, when all sound suddenly disappeared. I initially thought that my earphones were damaged, but seeing the faces of the staff members looking at me, as if asking “what’s wrong?”, I realized that something weird had happened to my ear. Since then, I’ve learned to live with it, and I’ve become so used to it that I don’t even remember how it feels like to have complete hearing. It’s become normal to me. Earphone technology has also improved since then, and it has helped me sing easier now. However, I’m afraid when I don’t have them. They’re like a lifeline for me, especially when I have to sing at large venues. At that time, they told me that they wouldn’t be responsible for whatever happened should I choose to continue touring, but I’ve never regretted it. Aside from deciding that I wanted to do it, I had accepted it as something I have to live with for the rest of my life… That was how I felt.”

Carrying the burden of that risk, she finished her first Arena Tour with raving reviews of her high quality shows. The next year, she expanded to do a Dome Tour, then a Stadium Tour the following year. Staff members who knew her then gave an inside view of how things were back then.

“Since the first tour, Hamasaki Ayumi has always been the only person involved who knows every single aspect of the show. Writing the script, delivering her vision, we did those to help her deliver what she wanted. As with Chapters 1 and 2, the tours now follow a storyline, which is not that unusual, but back then, I don’t think anyone truly understood from the get-go the vision she crafted with her thoughts. After 15 years, she has expanded beyond that to watch over tasks relegated to the stage and music directors, with the ability to make instant judgement. It’s a wonder how serious she can be when watching her own show.”

So how does ayu herself remember this?

“Without any experience in even filling a Hall, I was suddenly told to take on an Arena Tour. I really didn’t know anything, and I remember feeling totally lost and embarrassed. There were things I wanted to do, but I couldn’t get them across to others. I was just so ignorant. I didn’t know the words to describe things, and I didn’t know how I could make the things I wanted possible. I made a script and connected it with songs, and as the radio cassette played, I told the staff things like “I want the dancers to come out at this time~”. In return, I was told things like “I’ve never seen machinery strong enough to support such a huge dress in Japan”, and “I’ve never heard of that before, so I’m not sure if it can be done”. Unbeaten, I repeatedly told everyone to “please believe in me”. When I suggested a show in which dancers appeared for only 1 song, they suggested that “won’t it be alright to use prerecorded video then? Or how about dolls?” I replied that “there is meaning because humans can’t move without hearts. That’s something which isn’t true for videos and dolls”… 15 years ago, it was tough to get people to understand that there is meaning in everything I do. However, that helped me to learn. All the pain I went through made sure that I didn’t regret any effort I put into creating my ideal show, and I searched for lessons which I could learn everyday.

Masa, who watched me grow, taught me how to write lyrics and sing, and also how to write a script for my shows… However, from there on, the work I produce is created together with the people who work with me. Although Hamasaki Ayumi refers to one person, she is not a single entity. However, as Hamasaki Ayumi in name, I’m the only one who carries the burden of everything. I came to realize this around that time too.”