Featured Image: Georges Seguin (Okki), CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Fair Use.
"Before I start, I do have to admit something quite opinionated.... I'm a huge weeaboo/otaku."
Kiriko Takemura, known by her stage name Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, is a 28-year-old Japanese pop singer and model. What I admire about her is the outlandish persona she conveys in her songs, music videos, fashion, and image.
Her 2011 rise to stardom began with the sweet and catchy song “PonPonPon,” which reached the top ten on Japan’s Oricon music chart. When I first heard the song (along with the music video), I was perplexed, amused, and intrigued by the amount of creativity, wackiness, and over-the-top content featured in the song and video.
My opinion is quite biased, but I believe that Kyary is the epitome of pop culture as a whole. A very strong statement, I know, but as we explore her roots—along with her entire career— you’ll understand my logic.
Regardless of language barrier, Kyary has been able to connect with a global audience thanks to her dedication to her work".
Kyary is the type of person you’d look at and think she’s literally out-of-this-world. This young lady has accomplished so much in just 10 years [2011-2021]. Her public image is heavily influenced by Japan’s kawaii and decora phenomenon. The epitome of J-Pop is affiliated with her; I’ll dive deeper into that below.
Japanese Kawaii & “PonPonPon”
The bizarre vibe that J-Pop culture evokes is one that has longevity. Just the sheer amount of color, goofiness, farce comedy, and drama are ideas that could be considered rather far-fetched when compared to the status quo. A popular sub-culture of Japan, Kawaii culture (which means cute) plays a prominent role in Kyary’s entire persona.
So everyone can understand the term better, here’s a broader description from The Japanese Shop:
"The word itself has taken on a persona of “cute”, “lovable” and “adorable”, and has evolved to mean someone or something with no negative traits. It describes the culture of celebrating all things adorable as well as embracing fictional characters as the embodiment of positivity”.
Kyary is one of those singers who thinks outside the box, provides immense illustrations in her work, adds fiction to reality, and is someone you’d see as an “anime” type of character. I’ve watched anime, read manga and haikus, dressed in cosplay…did it all(guess I’m a weeaboo), so I know what I’m talking about here. Kyary was even named the “J-Pop Princess” & “The Harajuku Princess.”
On July 20th, 2011, Kyary released one of the most catchy and eccentric songs that I’ve ever heard, “PonPonPon”. This 4:15 song evokes a silly, unorthodox, colorful, and pure wackiness. It was released as the lead single for her EP, Moshi Moshi Harajuku, and was also included on her debut album, Pamyu Pamyu Revolution. The song was written and produced by Yasutaka Nakata of Capsule. The song is in Japanese but here’s an English translation for the lyrics:
PonPonPon received a large amount of international fame & has been featured in American Pop Culture. To me, the song was quite funny and a bit odd in a good way. For those of us who are weeaboos (people who love Japanese culture in an excessive amount), this catchy song will continue to hypnotize, even though it has been out for a decade. The song has a great message, as well.
Foreign Fame & Accomplishments
Kyary continued to release more singles such as “CANDY CANDY”, “Fashion Monster”, “Yume no Hajima Ring Ring,” and others. She sold out several venues around Japan and even performed at shows in other countries. After years of strict parenting, fashion blogging, modeling, and more, she signed a contract with Waner Music Japan as she became a hit sensation.
Kyary as of December 2021, has released five successful studio albums:
- Pamyu Pamyu Revolution (2012)
- Nanda Collection (2013)
- Pika Pika Fantajin (2014)
- Japamyu (2018)
- Candy Racer (2021)
In 2013 & 2014, she embarked on World Tours crossing through North America, Europe, and Asia. These were the 100% KPP World Tour and the “Nanda Collection World Tour. The “PonPonPon” singer’s glow stirred audiences far & wide, such a completely wacky musician who is to me a “Once in a Lifetime” individual.
Kyary has won numerous awards & many nominations for her terrific work from MTV Awards, Space Shower, Japan Awards, and Vogue. She’s a talented woman with an endearingly bizarre personality.
Public Image & Conclusions
Before I end this post, one thing I wanted to cover was the overall public image of Kyary. Like I said, she’s quite amusing, kooky, funny, and wacky; there are so many adjectives to use for her. Just be sure to admire the dedication she puts in to be the very best.
Her music is quite uplifting for me, as her comedy and flashy music video content drove me to the best places during my young adulthood.
Here’s an excerpt from her Wikipedia page that covers this topic:
"Her fashion sense is the subject of much media coverage. Kyary is often called "Japan's Lady Gaga", citing her similar use of fashion to attract attention. A review of her London concert stated "[Kyary] is not supposed to be musically talented.
She is more about image featuring her creative fashion sense as one of the main subjects of her career, not just the music." She has cited American singers Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga as her inspirations in both music and fashion.
Kyary's fashion sense has also been criticized. While being interviewed on TV Asahi's Music Station, she was wearing an oversized ribbon on her head, which blocked Japanese boy band Kanjani8 from being seen on camera, angering fans of Kanjani8 by her outrageous fashion style. She later stated that when she is being interviewed on television, she would restrict what she is wearing. Kyary's fans, however, defended her wearing the outfit. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu cites "kawaii" (meaning "cute" or "cuteness") as her background style".
"Her international success has also received much attention. During an interview with The Fader, Kyary was asked if she meant to make music outside of Asia, where she responded,
At first, I didn't think about global markets at all. But even in Japanese, my lyrics don't make any sense and have a kind of mystery, like on "Pon Pon Pon" and "Tsukematsukeru". I can feel that what I'm doing in Japanese is catchy to global audiences anyway."
 Keiichi Ishizaka, chairman and CEO of Warner Music Japan Inc, commented on her image to The Japan Times, saying "[Kyary] is a person who came directly out of Tokyo's Harajuku culture, and there is a growing international interest in Japan's kawaii culture." Many critics and publications noted the increase in popularity of Japanese pop culture outside Japan, such as its fashion and animation, and Kyary's role as its global ambassador. Ishizaka believed that with the advent of the Internet, there is no difference in time and distance among countries anymore." Seibu Railway honored her by running a train on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, part of their Seibu 9000 series, from June to September 2016, themed on the pop star's music videos, which also passed through herbirthplace Nishitōkyō, Tokyo“.
The goddess of J-Pop, Kyary is a muchacha [Spanish for young woman] with talent that’s so immeasurable. Kyary’s roots are heavily based around Japan’s and Tokyo’s Harajuku culture, with a heavy emphasis on a cinematic approach to her music videos. I wouldn’t be surprised if she decides to collaborate with a foreign artist at this point in her career. That could help to make her even more popular worldwide and be a very lucrative move.
Kyary’s no-drama vibe makes things easier for her; you never hear Kyary’s name involved in scandals, fights, promiscuity, vulgar lyrics (even though I can’t understand Japanese), or any sort of hate nor violence. She’s a one-of-a-kind human being. I will indeed continue to listen to Kyary’s music in order to provide amusement and humor to my life.
Let’s continue to support Kyary to the very end. 🙂