Akina on Star Tanjo, December 6, 1981 As a youngster, Akina grew up idolizing Yamaguchi Momoe (the Japanese pop superstar of the 1970's who retired in 1980) and Iwasaki Hiromi (a talented singer who began her career in the mid-1970's and is still actively recording). Watching and listening to her idols, she dreamed that someday she too would become a singer.

In 1979, when she was only 13 years old, Akina decided to take a shot at realizing her dream. She appeared on the NTV talent contest show "Star Tanjo" and sang a song originally performed by Iwasaki Hiromi, entitled "Natsu ni Dakarete." Unfortunately for Akina, this initial attempt was unsuccessful. The panel of judges had deemed the song to be too mature for a girl who had barely reached her teens, and were not convinced by Akina's performance.

Undaunted, Akina returned to "Star Tanjo" the following year for a second try. This time she interpreted the song "Hadashi No Kisetsu" originally by Matsuda Seiko. Once again, however, her dream proved to be elusive and she was unable to capture the judges' attention.

Akina scores 392! Refusing to be discouraged and still convinced of her capacity to sing, Akina made a third appearance on "Star Tanjo" on December 6, 1981, at the age of sixteen. This time, she selected the song "Yumesaki Annainin" by her idol Momoe Yamaguchi. The third attempt proved a charm, as Akina's perserverance was finally rewarded in a big way. With a score of 392, she virtually crushed her competition. Indeed, to date, no other winner of the contest achieved as high a score.

The "Star Tanjo" victory provided Akina's entry into the entertainment world and marked the beginning of her long and successful career. Following her triumph, Akina received offers from every recording company in Japan. She would eventually sign a contract with Warner-Pioneer.

Slow Motion In March of 1982, Akina traveled to Warner's studios in Los Angeles in order to record her debut single, "Slow Motion." The still 16-year-old Akina had never before flown on a plane, much less travelled outside of Japan, yet there she was in America, the land where dreams come true. The recording took one week to complete, and on May 1, the single was released in the Japanese market. Although the song sold less than 420,000 copies, it remained in the ORICON top 100 singles for more than 9 months. This promising result encouraged Warner execs to focus their attention on Akina.

Akina outside the WEA studio in Los Angeles
A few days following the release of "Slow Motion," Akina gave her first mini-concert in Tokyo.

Despite heavy Spring rains and the open-air venue, Akina successfully delivered an excellent and moving performance, winning the hearts of her first fans.

CJ's Akina Nakamori Page -
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