Photo/IllutrationFans take photos in front of a large picture of Namie Amuro wrapped on a truck container in Hiroshima on Sept. 8. (Masako Sakamoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

A year-long love fest for retiring pop diva Namie Amuro that featured sold-out concerts across Asia and million-selling CDs and DVDs is reaching a fever pitch as her final concert approaches.

The 40-year-old superstar's last public performance will be on stage at a music festival in her native Okinawa on Sept. 15.

Amuro announced her retirement last year effective Sept. 16, setting off a final-year frenzy among her millions of fans in Japan and across Asia.

She graced more than 10 magazine covers this summer. Vogue Japan for the first time in its history printed a Japanese female singer on its cover.

Her last greatest hits album titled “Finally,” released in November, has sold 2.3 million copies as of Sept. 12, according to Oricon Ranking.

Amuro's final tour in Japan and Asia, which ran for five months through June, attracted 800,000 concert-goers for 23 performances.

The video recording of the tours has sold more than 1.5 million copies of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, making it the first music video title to sell 1 million copies or more.

Amuro was often called the “Diva of the Heisei Era,” in that she ruled Japan's entertainment scene for more than two decades.

Writer Rinko Torii, 56, said Amuro is the symbol of an era where “women take the initiative to present themselves.”

“Amuro has pursued what she wants to and has not just settled for what is fashionable,” said Torii. “She decided to reset her life at 40 to live for herself and to be happy. She is being praised for such gracefulness.”

From Aug. 20, two large trucks with containers wrapped with massive close-up pictures of Amuro traveled around Japan separately to collect messages from fans in 34 cities.

The truck tour, sponsored by businesses that have worked with Amuro, attracted about 100,000 people and the number of message cards collected exceeded 35,000.

One of the trucks parked at a shopping mall in Hiroshima on Sept. 8. About 3,500 fans, mostly women in their 30s and 40s, lined up to make contributions to the project, and to take photos in front of the truck.

Sentiments, such as “Thank you, Amuro-chan,” “I owe a lot to Amuro-chan,” and “I love you,” were expressed by many in the crowd.

Garden designer Kimiko Sasaki, 55, from Hiroshima, dropped a postcard with an illustration of Amuro she drew in a post set up for collecting fans’ messages.

Sasaki, a fan of Amuro for 23 years, learned of her impending retirement from a morning news show a year ago. She said she was shocked, but she supports her decision.

“Amuro has always sincerely faced her job, and it is what she decided,” said Sasaki. “I am just grateful to her.”

Sasaki said she cried when she listened to the title track of Amuro's “Finally” album, realizing her retirement is real.

She said she loved how Amuro pursued perfection and lived up to her own philosophy. And that cheered her up when she felt down about her work.

Homemaker Chie Takahashi, 37, also from Hiroshima, came to say good-bye along with her 15-year-old daughter.

“She is charismatic,” said Takahashi, a fan of Amuro for more than 20 years. “I could accept her reason for retirement--to start a second life.”