Hitomi Shimatani (島谷 ひとみ, Shimatani Hitomi), real name: Hitomi Shimatani (島谷 瞳, Shimatani Hitomi, born September 4, 1980 in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan), is a female J-pop singer signed to the Avex Trax label.
Shimatani started her career as an Enka singer with the release of her debut single "Ōsaka no Onna" (大阪の女, woman from Ōsaka) in 1999, but later decided to get into the dance/pop style for her music. Shimatani's music has also appeared in video games and also anime series.
Hitomi Shimatani's childhood dream, like many others, was to become a famous singer. At the age of seventeen, when she was still in high school, Shimatani decided to pursue this goal and attended "The Japan Audition 1997" hosted by the music label avex trax. Hitomi was chosen out of around two-hundred other girls who participated and received a recording contract with avex. However, before starting her music career, she wished to finish high school -- to which avex agreed, but with the stipulation that Shimatani attend vocal lessons at the same time. She agreed.
After having finished school and feeling ready to her first step as a young singer, in 1999 Hitomi released her first single called "Ōsaka no onna" (大阪の女, woman from Ōsaka), an enka song. Although the single received much critical acclaim and even won some awards, it sold rather poorly, causing either Shimatani, avex, or both to decide that "Ōsaka no onna" was to be both the beginning and the end of Shimatani's enka career. She started to record more songs and in 2000 she released her second single, "Kaihōku" (解放区, freezone), which was drastically different, stylistically, than her previous with its extremely pop leanings.
However, mainstream success didn't come until the release of Shimatani's third single, entitled "papillon" (パピヨン~papillon~, lit. "papiyon~butterfly~"), a Japanese version of Janet Jackson's song "Doesn't Really Matter". The single became a hit, eventually selling over 200,000 copies, and valuted Shimatani into the spotlight. Since then, Shimatani has often been compared with the top artists on avex trax. Since then she has released five studio albums, one "best-of" compilation, a special concept album entitled "crossover", a winter mini-album, and twenty-two singles .
Shimatani often uses "exotic-sounding" titles for her songs, including such tracks as "Perseus" (ペルセウス, Peruseusu?) (which references the famous Greek myth), "Falco" (ファルコ, Faruko) (Italian for "hawk"), "bella flor" and "La Fiesta" (in Spanish, "beautiful flower" and "the celebration", respectively). She has also been recognized by anime and videogame fans around the globe for songs like ANGELUS -Anjerasu-, which was used as an opening theme for the Inuyasha anime series,Falco (Faruko) the 1st opening of "The Law of Ueki" or Ueki no Housoku and "Garnet Moon", the main theme from the Playstation 2 video-game "Another Century's Episode".
Although dance-pop/techno-pop and Latin-styled music were a staple of much of Shimatani's earlier career, she has recently been working extensively in a sound which many have termed "crossover" (named so after the album on which it first made an appearance) -- a blend of traditional pop sensibilities with heavy orchestral and classical-music infusion.
Following her latest release of her single Pasio on 15 Nov 06, Hitomi will be releasing 2 singles, one, a collaboration with Suzuki Masayuki named "Futari de Iijanai", due to be released on 23rd Jan 07; the other single named "Dragonfly" due to be released on 20 Feb 07.
A new album, unnamed as yet, will be due for release on 6 Mar 07.