Hajime Okano

元ちとせ

元ちとせ Chitose Hajime (元ちとせ Hajime Chitose, born January 5, 1979) is a folk singer-songwriter from Japan. She is from Amami Ōshima and sings in a style particular to that region (shimauta), with distinctive falsetto effects.
Chitose Hajime was recognized as a gifted folk singer at a young age. She won many folk song competitions, released two traditional folk albums on an indie label, and was approached by numerous record labels. She decided to study to become a beautician instead of pursuing music. However, Hajime had severe allergic reactions to many of the chemicals used by beauticians. She withdrew from school, and seriously considered a music career.

In 2001, she released a self titled mini-album on the indie label Office Augusta. The album was covers of older songs, but was so well received that Hajime was pushed to release another mini-album. In August 2001, Chitose released her second mini-album with Augusta Records entitled Kotonoha (コトノハ). This release featured 5 original tracks.

In 2002 she released her first major label single on Epic Records - "Wadatsumi no Ki" (ワダツミの木). It was the third highest selling single of the year behind only Hikaru Utada's "traveling", and Ayumi Hamasaki's "H". Three months later, she released a brand new single, "Kimi wo Omō" (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 3 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 taking time away from the music scene to get married, and have a child. Her first child miscarried, but she successfully gave birth to a girl on January 20, 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 BLOOD+. The single was a hit, reaching #12 on the Oricon charts. She followed this success with her next come-back single, "Haru no Katami" (春のかたみ), the ending theme for the anime AYAKASHI - Japanese Classic Horror. This single sold 6050 copies in its first week, and remained on the charts for 7 weeks total. A third single was released before her next album. The single, "Ao no Requiem" (青のレクイエム), was the theme song for the Studio GAGA film Hatsukoi. It featured 1 extra track, and charted for 3 weeks. The following week, Hajime released her third original major album, Hanadairo (ハナダイロ). The album was available in both a regular edition, and a limited edition. The limited edition 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".
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