Moritaka Chisato

Moritaka ChisatoMoritaka Chisato is a household name in Japan. Mention of her sparks thoughts of her music, TV commercials - and her legs! Born in Osaka in 1969, Moritaka was raised in Kumamoto, Kyushu and first found fame as winner of the "Pocari Sweat Image Girl Contest" in 1986. Unabashed, she launched her singing career in May 1987 with the release of her first album, New Season. In the following twelve years she released seventeen albums and numerous singles, many of them smashes.

Moritaka is not just another pretty girl who has made an impact on the Japanese music scene with clever marketing and a decent voice. She pens all the lyrics to her songs, making them in turn down-to-earth (preparing a birthday dinner for a boyfriend), humorous (would she be loved if she were a mini-skirt wearing obaasan?), insightful and occasionally wacky. Her frequently Beatles-influenced songs fall outside the norm of over-produced dance ditties, and the musically-gifted Moritaka plays drums on all her songs and occasionally puts in turns on the piano, guitar and clarinet. The result is a unique musical flavor that makes her songs firm favorites in karaoke boxes and gives her true idol status.

The public world of Moritaka Chisato works like one smoothly-oiled machine. There' the music which naturally appears on an album, followed by the concert tour to back up the album, and capped with the release of the video of the concert tour. Then there are the TV commercials in which she appears and for which her own music is used: most recently in commercials for a convenience store, health drink, cosmetics company, a brand of chocolate, a life insurance company and gin. Sometimes music written for the commercials reappears in a song which finds its way onto her next album. Of course there are also the occasional TV chat show appearances, and until late last year she hosted her own late night radio show. You'd think she would be worn out, but attending one of her concerts is like entering a huge party for close friends. Hit follows hit and the audience spontaneously dances along, mimicking the movements learned from watching her videos. Despite being a household name she manages to keep her private life just as it should be private. While occasional reports have been made in past years linking her to heartthrob actor Eguchi Yosuke, nothing deeper is known and she avoids being drawn into the subject.

Oh, the legs? Well, it was rumored a few years ago that Moritaka had them insured; a perfectly understandable precaution. However in the last couple of years the legs have not featured as prominently in her music videos or in her live shows, perhaps reflecting a maturity that has increasingly found its way into her music. Having just turned thirty she recently asked a concert audience if they would still come to see her when she reaches middle age and turns to singing traditional Japanese songs. She needn't have worried. With one huge voice the answer was a resounding "you bet!"

Chris Green

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