I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hikaru Utada -- Traveling

Here's another song whose video almost became or perhaps was even more celebrated than the song itself. Through her videos of her singles from her first 2 albums, "First Love"and "Distance" I saw the club kid Hikaru Utada (宇多田ヒカル) in her hoodie or walking through a party in New York City. But then came "Traveling" which struck me as her first foray into dance music. The song was catchy enough but this concept video came with it which acted like some really good Hollandaise Sauce on Eggs Benedict.

The video was directed by Kazuaki Kiriya(紀里谷和明) who would become Utada's husband a year later; it was this crazy mix of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace", "Galaxy Express 999" and an insane TV test pattern. The song and video came out in November 2001, and I distinctly remember the morning the news came out about "Traveling". I was watching the Fuji-TV morning show, "Mezamashi Terebi", and my clone, entertainment reporter Shinichi Karube first broke the story about this new Utada song. Saw the clip of the video....I have to say it's never good to see such vivid colours that early in the morning. My cereal got so soggy that it actually melted into the milk. It was definitely different from anything I had seen Utada in before.

"Traveling"was written and composed by Utada as a song with which she wanted to get some cheer out of her audience, according to the J-Wiki writeup. It certainly got everyone talking. And Utada has been noted as saying the video increased her enjoyment of the song by several times. It hit No. 1, became the 2nd-ranked song of 2002, and sold a little over 850,000 copies. It was also a track on Utada's 3rd album, "Deep River", released in June 2002. It sold over 3 million copies to become the top album of the year, and it currently is the 8th-ranking album in sales in Japanese history.


  1. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on 宇多田ヒカル. Utada/Hikki is perhaps my #1 favorite J-Pop singer. Along with 安室奈美恵 and 浜崎あゆみ, she definitely helped to influence and pave the way for a generation of Japanese singers including JASMINE, JUJU, Misia, 倖田來未 and 加藤美穂 among others. Utada's success perhaps also helped to encourage a number of other 帰国子女/Japanese living abroad to come back to Japan to become recording artists including 伊藤由奈, アンジェラ・アキ, MiChi, Bonnie Pink, 青山テルマ, AI and Americans Leah Dizon and ジェロ/Jero. It's too bad that Utada's attempts to enter the American Music Charts haven't been as successful. It isn't for lack of talent or trying. I guess her style of R&B/Pop just can't compete against the music of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Beyonce. I hope Utada eventually comes out of retirement soon. As her recent theme song 桜流し for the Anime movie ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q has proved she is still immensely popular and very much relevant in the Japanese Music scene.

  2. Hi there, JTM. I think Utada definitely made a huge splash in J-Pop, especially with her first three albums. I only wished that she could've made a few more uptempo songs like "Traveling". Maybe she will someday.

    I recollect reading an article in either "Time" or "Newsweek" about another artist at a studio, and the writer also mentioned that Hikaru Utada had been recording there at the same time. He pretty much brushed her off in one sentence as being a "bubblegum pop starlet from Japan". Ouch! Of course, we know better, don't we?:)

    I'm thinking about doing a profile sometime soon on her mother, Keiko Fuji.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.