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Sakai died on 27 May 2007.
More DetailsHide DetailsPolice judged her death accidental, the result of a fall from the landing of an emergency-exit slope at Keio University Hospital, where she was undergoing chemotherapy. The slope appeared to be very slippery due to rain the day before. According to police, the fall took place during a walk on the morning of 26 May 2007, from a height of about 3 meters (about 9 feet and 10 inches). Sakai was discovered unconscious at around 5:40 a.m. by a passer-by and taken to the emergency room, where she died the following afternoon of head injuries. Due to the unusual and unlikely nature of her death, police investigated for possibility of suicide, but concluded that it was indeed an accident. In the Friday article, her mother said that she took walks in rehabilitation and the location where she fell was her favorite place to meditate.
As of August 2007, Sakai is ranked fourth in all-time female album sales, just ahead of Hikaru Utada, at 19.2 million copies (see Zard).
More DetailsHide DetailsIzumi Sakai sold more CDs than any female vocalist during the 1990s, surpassing even Namie Amuro. Unlike Amuro, who won two consecutive Japan Record Awards in 1996 and 1997, an record until broken in 2004 by Ayumi Hamasaki, Zard did not win a single award. Sakai may have refused award nominations on the grounds that she did not want to perform live on screen, a requirement to accept them.
While many of her songs were intended to encourage other people, her 42nd and final single, "Heart ni Hi o Tsukete," was different. After Sakai died, a staff member revealed an email in which Sakai wrote that she felt that the song was written to encourage herself.
On October 19, 2007, it was announced that "Glorious Mind" would be released as Sakai’s first posthumous CD single on December 12, 2007.
More DetailsHide DetailsThe song will be used as the theme song of Detective Conan, a Japanese anime that was Sakai’s favorite. The song will be broadcast with the episode airing on October 15. This is the seventh time that a song by Sakai has been chosen as the theme for Detective Conan. The single will contain rearranged versions of "Ai o Shinjiteiru" and "Sagashi ni Ikou yo."
Such is Sakai’s popularity that, according to Oricon, "Glorious Mind" was the best-selling single of the day on the first six days of its release, falling to third place on the seventh day.
Sakai’s office announced that there will be a nationwide tour to follow the What a Beautiful Memory tour. Announced on November 16, 2007, through Zard’s official website, it will consist of 15 concerts at 13 locations in early 2008. The first concert will be at Kobe’s International Forum on January 19 and the final one will commemorate the first anniversary of Sakai’s death at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Yoyogi on May 27. None of the concerts will take place at the Tokyo International Forum, where the "What a Beautiful Moment" DVD was mainly recorded, or at Nippon Budokan. Additional previously unreleased footage of Sakai will be shown throughout the tour.
PVTV, in a three-minute report on Zard in November 2007, also reported that Sakai’s physical weakness had only allowed her to record her singing a handful of times, but successfully passed the trials.
The sudden news of Sakai’s death caused an uproar in the Japanese music industry and began to dominate headlines and the "what’s new" spaces on many major music websites. Music Station, a TV program, did a four-minute tribute to her during its 1 June 2007 broadcast.
More DetailsHide DetailsDue to viewer request, another tribute was aired a week later.
The was released on August 15, 2007. This book contains tracks of 16 years by "Izumi Sakai's poetry" and "Comments of the staff who have helped ZARD".
The book records that she was informed two days before she died, and that Sakai was encouraged by the news that she was selected. Furthermore, the day before she died, Sakai told a producer who had been with her for 16 years that she was looking forward to have a recording machine at her home so she could start working upon discharge from hospital.
A closed memorial service was held on 26 June at a funeral hall in Aoyama, Tokyo for members of the entertainment industry. This was attended by celebrities such as Maki Ohguro (another female vocalist who, like Sakai, rarely appears in public and writes most of her own material). Almost as if to illustrate Sakai’s impact on the Japanese music scene and the depth of her presence, singers Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba, members of the popular B'z group, pop-singer Mai Kuraki, and even baseball giant Shigeo Nagashima all left moving messages of their encounters with Sakai. Singers Hikaru Utada and Nanase Aikawa, though not personally acquainted with Sakai, also issued memorial statements on their official web pages, describing how Sakai’s death had shocked them.
Sakai had been planning to release a new album in fall 2007, as well as launch her first live tour in three years.
More DetailsHide DetailsShe was 40. Her family was at her side, but it was reported that she never regained consciousness.
Finally, Sakai sent an e-mail to her staff saying that she was anxious to go back to producing music and was looking forward to another concert in late 2007.
She began undergoing treatment at Keio University Hospital in April 2007 but she never fully recovered.
More DetailsHide DetailsHowever, Sakai was neither discouraged nor thought she was dying. After her death, the Japanese weekly magazine Friday ran an interview in which said Sakai thought that modern treatments would enable her to live long. Her mother said that she greeted her visitors cheerfully and did not seem to show the effects of her illness. A fellow patient later said that they walked together at times and Sakai sang "Makenaide" for her when she could not walk.
The NHK program Close Up Gendai reported on June 18, 2007, that the secret to Sakai’s success was that she hardly was seen in public, which created a mystic aura.
More DetailsHide DetailsDespite her healthy lifestyle, which included abstaining from tobacco and alcohol, Sakai was seriously ill at times. According to the Kitto Wasurenai Official book, she had to stop her career temporarily due to various uterus-related illnesses in 2001, and did not begin working full-time until 2003. In June 2006, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, for which she immediately underwent treatment. She appeared to have healed, but discovered that her cancer had spread to her lungs, indicating a Stage 5 cancer.
For example, her fifth compilation, Golden Best: 15th Anniversary, released in May 2006, had actually slipped to the top 300, but surged to No. 3 in the rankings and became the sixth highest-selling album after her death.
More DetailsHide DetailsIn the seven days to June 4, 2007, it sold 41,000 copies, a sixtyfold increase from the previous week.
Later in 1993 she was ranked the top artist in CD sales and second as a lyricist.
More DetailsHide DetailsSakai produced 42 singles as well as 11 albums and 5 compilations in her lifetime. In addition to "Makenaide," she produced two other singles that sold over a million copies. Six of her albums as well as her first three compilations also surpassed the one-million mark, an record. In record sales, Izumi Sakai is considered one of the most successful Japanese singers ever. This is remarkable, given that the height her career coincided with Japan's 1991 stock and real-estate market collapse and 1997 banking crises. In total CDs sold currently exceeds 30 million making Zard the eighth best-selling artist in Japan.
Since 2000, Sakai’s CD sales had declined but her death triggered an increase in CD sales.
Izumi Sakai released "Makenaide" on January 27, 1993, her sixth single which appealed to the Japanese public.
More DetailsHide DetailsReleased at a time that is now seen as the beginning of Japan's post economic bubble era when the Nikkei 225 Index had shrunk in value by a third in only three years, "Makenaide" (Don't Give Up) became known as the theme song of the country's Lost Decade." While Sakai commented on the television show Music Station that it would be a song to encourage men taking college and company employment examinations, many people said this song helped them cope with difficult issues such as school bullying. What is notable about "Makenaide" is that Zard fans’ favorite phrase, "Run through Until the End" was originally "Do Not Give Up until the End". "Makenaide" has been used as a theme song for the Nippon Television program 24-hour TV, an annual charity program hosted live by celebrities for a whole day. Sakai said that she was honored and looked forward to watching 24-hour TV. Overall, "Makenaide" sold nearly 2 million copies.
Her 1991 first single, "Good-bye My Loneliness," sold very well, but her next two faltered.
More DetailsHide DetailsThe Good-bye My Loneliness promotion video depicts a youthful and energetic Sakai. A decade after her debut, she listed this song as one of her most memorable pieces, especially because she had to sing it over a hundred times to get the recording right. Her fourth single, "Nemurenai Yoru o Daite" (Hold me through the sleepless night) was extremely successful, leading to four television appearances. And her best was still to come.
Izumi Sakai was Zard’s sole member at the time of the band’s debut, although between late 1991 and early 1993 four other members were introduced.
More DetailsHide DetailsThe melodies of early Zard hits were written by prominent Japanese composers, most notably Seiichirō Kuribayashi and Tetsurō Oda. Izumi Sakai wrote nearly all of the lyrics to Zard songs, totalling over one hundred fifty. A veteran recording producer described that while most artists communicate through the transparent glass in the recording studio, Sakai preferred covering the glass with a curtain.
In 1991, Sakai joined the five-member pop group Zard as lead vocalist.
More DetailsHide DetailsThe group name did not have any particular meaning except Sakai felt that word Zard sounded like a rock group. She also took the name as derived from words such as "blizzard" and "wizard." The group’s name very quickly became synonymous with Sakai herself, and Sakai wrote the lyrics to all of Zard's songs except Onna de Itai and Koionna no Yuuutsu, both of which were written by Daria Kawashima. By 1993, the four male band members left the group but Sakai chose to keep the Zard name throughout her career.
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