Interesting thing about Mai Kuraki（倉木麻衣）. I had often seen her as the Greta Garbo of Japanese pop music along with the late Izumi Sakai（坂井泉水）of ZARD since neither of them showed up all that much on the music shows, and even though the songs and videos by Kuraki came out fairly frequently over the years, she struck me as a singer whose fame progressed somewhat quietly. Once in a while, an announcer on Fuji-TV might declare one of her new singles coming out but otherwise media attention didn't seem to be over the top when it came to her.
Perhaps the mystique surrounding Kuraki has all been just in my head but what added to it was the repeated showing of excerpts from the official video of her very first single, "Love, Day After Tomorrow" which was released back in December 1999. TBS' "Countdown TV" made it a habit to show Kuraki bopping about on that comfy sofa in monochrome for what seemed to be months on end. And I'd heard rumours to the effect that I assumed that she was either a very fluent speaker of English or she was a Japanese-American like Hikaru Utada（宇多田ヒカル）. Utada's star was very much in the ascendant at the time Kuraki got her start and Kuraki's vocal style resembled that of Utada which had me connecting a few dots....erroneously as it were. But as it turned out, Mai-chan was actually from a city which was just a few stations down my old Tozai Line, Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture. She was practically a neighbour! And all that talk about her connections with the United States was probably connected with the fact that she had actually made her US debut before her Japanese one under the name of Mai K. with the song "Baby I Like" around a couple of months before "Love, Day After Tomorrow". The song didn't make any waves Stateside so it was back to Japan.
In any case, the 2nd time was the charm. "Love, Day After Tomorrow" debuted at No. 18 on Oricon before going all the way to No. 2, selling around 1.4 million copies. It would become the 4th-ranked single of 2000. Kuraki was the one behind the lyrics while Aika Ohno（大野愛果）took care of the melody. Ohno would compose music for many of Kuraki's songs and also for ZARD.
I realize that she's been around for 15 years but it's hard to believe that the lass is in her 30s now.