I was surprised that the above video got up so quickly but this was the piece that I was watching last night on NHK's morning show (time difference, remember). I had never heard of singer-songwriter Yoshiko Hanzaki（半崎美子）before and when she was introduced as the "Shopping Mall Utahime" (Shopping Mall Diva), I was not particularly impressed.
From what I read on her J-Wiki file, the Hokkaido native had debuted back in 2007 and released a smattering of singles and albums over the past decade with her first major album coming out just earlier this year in March. Plus, she's held a number of concerts. Still, I'm not sure whether she has become a household name.
But during the NHK feature, it was discovered that she has become famous in Taiwan for performing in various shopping malls. And there was one moving ballad that seems to have become especially popular. "Ashita e Mukau Hito" (The One That Heads To Tomorrow). It was originally released as the title track of one of her albums back in March 2015.
The song is about being able to move forward in life despite the various obstacles and tragedies that inevitably populate life's path, and in the NHK segment, a couple of families have turned to "Ashita e Mukau Hito" for solace while mourning the loss of children.
I will be honest on seeing the original music video that I had to grab a tissue. The animation is cute and simple but speaks volumes about the power of friendship. The original album only got as high as No. 120 on Oricon but I am hoping that having folks in Japan discover this song for the first time will bring some more fame to Hanzaki. Perhaps hope beyond hope but wouldn't it be nice if she were even invited to the Kohaku Utagassen in a few months?