Chitose Hajime (元 ちとせ,Hajime Chitose, born January 5, 1979) is a Japanese singer from Amami Ōshima. She sings in the shima-uta style particular to that region, with distinctive falsetto effects.
Chitose Hajime began learning shamisen under her mother's encouragement from a young age. At age 10 she began to pick up shima-uta, a style of singing passed down through generations.
She won many folk and other song competitions during her teens, traveling to events across Japan. She released two traditional folk albums on cassette on an indie label, the first at age 15, and at age 18 was approached by numerous record labels following a grand prize win at a local folk song contest. Stating in a later interview that she was "suspicious of them", she decided not to join the labels or pursue music, and instead chose to study to become a beautician, following in the footsteps of her older sister. She moved to Osaka in 1998. However, she suffered from asthma and had severe allergic reactions to many of the chemicals used by beauticians. She withdrew from school, but before returning home to Amami Ōshima she contacted the artist management company Office Augusta, the only company that had gone all the way to visit her on her home island during the flurry to sign her at age 18.
In March 2001, she released a self-titled mini-album through Augusta Records. The album of cover versions included four English-language songs performed originally by Carole King, The Sugarcubes, Jimi Hendrix and Velvet Underground, but was so well received that Hajime was pushed to release another mini-album less than five months later. In August 2001, Chitose released her second mini-album with Augusta Records entitled Kotonoha (コトノハ), this time featuring five original tracks.
In 2002, she released her first major label single on Epic Records - Wadatsumi no Ki (ワダツミの木) ("The Sea-God's Tree"). It was the third highest selling single of the year behind only Hikaru Utada's "traveling", and Ayumi Hamasaki's "H", selling an estimated 850,000 copies. Three months later, she released a brand new single, "Kimi o Omou" (君ヲ想フ). While also very popular, it was not nearly the success that her first single was, although it did help to cement her as a permanent artist.
Her first major album, Hainumikaze (ハイヌミカゼ), followed later in the year. It sold 800,000 copies, charted for 57 weeks, and was the 16th highest selling album of the year.
She released three more singles before her second major album, Nomad Soul (ノマド・ソウル,nomado souru), was released in 2003. Shortly after a concert tour, and the release of a live album and DVD in 2004, Hajime announced that she would be getting married, and was to have her first child in 2005.
She returned to the music industry in November 2005 with the single "Kataritsugu Koto" (語り継ぐこと), the ending theme for the anime series BLOOD+. The single was a hit, reaching #12 on the Oricon charts. She followed this success with "Haru no Katami" (春のかたみ), the ending theme for the anime AYAKASHI - Japanese Classic Horror. The single sold 6,050 copies in its first week, and remained on the charts for seven weeks total. A third single, "Ao no Requiem" (青のレクイエ), was the theme song for the Studio GAGA film Hatsukoi. The following week, Hajime released her third original major album, Hanadairo (ハナダイロ). A limited edition version featured a 13th track, "Shinda Onna no Ko" (死んだ女の子) with Ryuichi Sakamoto), as well as a DVD containing the music videos for "Kataritsugu Koto", and "Haru no Katami".
Following Hanadairo (ハナダイロ), Hajime took an extended break to spend time with her family and moving to Okinawa. She returned in 2008 with the release of "CASSINI" (カッシーニ), based on the theme of family and bonding.
In August 2010 she released two albums simultaneously, the Japanese language "Orient" and the English language "Occident".
Studies have revealed that her particular style of singing, including aspects of traditional Amami-Ōshima music, has a relaxing effect that has been observed in electroencephalograms taken from the brains of people listening to her singing.
[1994.08.12] Higya Merabe (ひぎゃ女童)- Cassette Tape, Central Gakki Records
Naga Asabana Bushi (長朝花節)
Shonjoshu Bushi (俊良主節)
Kurudando Bushi (くるだんど節)
Magaryo Takajichi Bushi (曲がりょ高頂節)
Rankan Boshi Bushi (らんかん橋節)
Amagurumi Bushi (雨黒み節)
Shumichi Nagahama Bushi (塩道長浜節)
Honen Bushi (豊年節)
Komori Uta (子守唄)
Yukyunnya Kana Bushi (行きゅんにゃ加那節)
Nagakumo Bushi (長雲節)
Shunkane Bushi (シュンカネ節)
Yoisura Bushi (ヨイスラ節)
Kunnyori Yoneago Bushi (国直よね姉節)
Kantsume Bushi (かんつめ節)
Shogachi Gin (正月着物)
Mucha Kana Bushi (むちゃ加那節)
[2002.06.09] Shima • Kyora • Umui (故郷・美ら・思い)- originally released in 1997, it was re-released in 2002 by Central Gakki Records
Yoshinori Nabe Kanasetsu (嘉徳なべ加那節)
Mucha Kanasetsu (むちゃ加那節)
Magaryo Takachidjisetsu (曲がりょ高頂節)
The songs in the two albums above are folk music songs of Amami Islands sung in Amami language.
[2001.03.10] Hajime Chitose- mini album, Augusta Records
Birthday (by The Sugarcubes)
Namae no nai Tori (名前のない鳥)
Sweet Jane (by Lou Reed / Velvet Underground)
Little Wing (by Jimi Hendrix)
Fuyu no Sanitorium (冬のサナトリウム)
Home Again (by Carole King)
[2001.08.01] Kotonoha (コトノハ)- mini album, Augusta Records
Ryuuguu no Tsukai (竜宮の使い)
[2002.07.10] Hainumikaze (ハイヌミカゼ)
Sango Jugoya (サンゴ十五夜)
Wadatsumi no Ki (ワダツミの木)
Natsu no Utage (夏の宴)
Hikaru Kaigara (ひかる・かいがら)
Shinshin Raika (心神雷火)
Kimi wo Omou (君ヲ想フ)
Rinto Suru (凛とする)
[2003.09.03] Nomad Soul (ノマド・ソウル)
Neiro Nanairo (音色七色)
Sen no Yoru to Sen no Hiru (千の夜と千の昼)
Itsuka Kaze ni Naru Hi (いつか風になる日)
Aurora Sora Kara Mitsumete Iru (オーロラの空から見つめている)
Kono Machi (この街)
Getsurei 17.4 (月齢１７．４)
Yuri Collection (百合コレクション)
Uragano Oka (ウルガの丘)
[2004.08.04] Fuyu no Hainumikaze (冬のハイヌミカゼ)- Double Disc Live Album
Aurora no Sora kara Mitsumete Iru
Kimi wo Omou
Yoru ni Yomeru Uta
Namae no Nai Tori
Sanpono no Susume
Wadatsumi no Ki
Sen no Yoru to Sen no Hiru
Itsuka Kaze ni Naru Hi
Uruga no Oka
[2006.05.10] Hanadairo (ハナダイロ)
Hitsuji no Dolly (羊のドリー)
Ao no Requiem (青のレクイエム) - theme song of a film "Hatsukoi / (First Love)" of Aoi Miyazaki - Written and Composed by Sadayoshi Okamoto, - Arranged by COIL
Kataritsugu Koto (語り継ぐこと) - ending theme song of Blood+ - Written by HUSSY R, - Composed, Arranged by Tashika Yuuichi, - Arranged by Shintarō Tokita
Shinda Onna no Ko (死んだ女の子) / (The Dead Little Girl) - Written by Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet, - Translated by Nobuyuki Nakamoto, - Composed by Yuzo Sotoyama, - Produced and played piano by Ryuichi Sakamoto
[2008.07.16] CASSINI (カッシーニ)
Megumi no Ame (恵みの雨)
Anata ga Koko ni Ite Hoshii (あなたがここにいてほしい)
Kasei Kuru Kuru (カセイクルクル)
Hotaru Boshi (蛍星) - Produced, Written and Composed by Shintarō Tokita from Sukima Switch
Miyori no Mori (ミヨリの森)
Niji ga Umareru Kuni (虹が生まれる国) - Produced by Paddy Moloney from the Chieftains
Rokko Ballad (六花譚)
Tama Yura (玉響) (たまゆら)
Seiya Kyoku (静夜曲)
Sora ni Saku (空に咲く花) / (Flower in the Sky) - theme song of a drama "Boushi / (Caps/Hats)" - Written by Yoko Maruyama, - Supported by HUSSY R, - Composed by Yuichi Tajika, Yoshinobu Morikawa, Arranged by Takumi Mamiya