Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro, who has a broad fan base across Asia, delivered her final stage performance in the city of Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture on Saturday, drawing thousands of fans from across the country.
Amuro -- a megastar in Japan's pop music scene since the 1990s as a singer, dancer and fashion icon -- chose her home prefecture for her farewell performance before she retires on Sunday. She announced last September she will quit showbiz.
"To everyone who came to the venue, thank you very very much," the 40-year-old diva told fans at the end of her performance. She performed eight songs.
Wearing boots, her signature style, Amuro performed with artists including singer Ken Hirai. The lineup also included Okinawan bands Begin and Mongol800, and Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai, with whom Amuro has collaborated.
Amuro charmed the roaring crowd of about 3,500 people with her dance moves. "Make noise! Okinawa!" she shouted at one point.
At the end of the concert, she and the other artists thanked the audience and she left the stage with a smile. Fans chanted her first name "Namie," but she did not return to the stage for an encore.
Terumi Toda, 35, a resident of Yamaguchi city, said when Amuro appeared onstage, "I couldn't stop my tears as I had mixed emotions of happiness and sadness."
"My prime was spent together with Amuro-san. I want to say to her thank you for making everybody happy," Toda said.
Before the event began, more than 1,000 people gathered at a park adjacent to the venue, hoping to hear Amuro's voice from outside.
From Noda, Chiba Prefecture, 15-year-old Minami Tanaka and her mother Hiroko, 45, arrived in Okinawa a day before to find the best spot. "I would be able to come to terms (with her retirement) if I could hear her even for a while," Tanaka said.
In Naha, the capital of Okinawa, banners and posters showing photos of Amuro and expressing gratitude to the star were put up at the city hall, a bank and newspaper office. Fans from across the country posed in front of a big vertical poster that read "Okinawa (heart mark) Amuro."
"I wanted to be as close as possible" to Amuro, said Junichi Shiba, 27, a resident of Joso in Ibaraki Prefecture. "When I was sick and having a tough time, I was uplifted by her songs."
Jasmine Chin, 40, had come all the way from Taiwan, and because she did not have a ticket to the concert, said she just wanted to be near the sold-out venue for Amuro's final performance.
Amuro stunned her fans last year on her birthday, Sept. 20, by announcing her retirement from showbiz in a year's time. The announcement on her website was made just days after her 25th anniversary as a performer.
Debuting on Sept. 16, 1992, as a member of all-girl group Super Monkey's, Amuro later turned solo and went onto become a J-pop music legend. She dominated the music charts with a string of megahits such as "Can You Celebrate?," "Chase the Chance" and "Sweet 19 Blues."
She won numerous music awards, including the prestigious Japan Record Award two years in a row. Amuro also sang "Never End" at a welcome reception for leaders of the then Group of Eight nations at their 2000 summit in Okinawa, and her song "Hero" was the NHK theme song for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Amuro created the "Amuraa" phenomenon in the mid-1990s in which young girls and women copied her signature look of miniskirt and high-heeled platform boots with dyed brown hair, thin-arched eyebrows and a deep tan.
At age 20 -- at the peak of her career -- Amuro made the surprise announcement that she was pregnant and married. In 1997, she married a member of the Japanese pop group TRF and gave birth to a son in May 1998. She made a comeback on NHK's year-end music show that December after taking a yearlong maternity and child care leave.