Have you ever heard of Angela Aki or Shiina Ringo? Maybe you have. If you live in Japan, you probably have. Both of them are amazing female artists from Japan. I love their music so much, even when I can't completely understand their lyrics. Angela Aki's kind of like the Sarah McLachlan of Japan. Her father is Japanese and her mother is Italian-American. She's in her mid 30s now, but instead of being limited by the age and gender discrimination in this country (she's supposed to be a stay-at-home mother, after all), she's still making music that's relevant and people are still listening to her work.
She's played piano since she was a child, but she didn't start her career seriously until she was 25 years old, after attempting to break into the music scene in the USA after attending university in DC (she spent her teenage years in Hawaii, so she's bilingual/bicultural). She wasn't able to find the support she needed in the US music scene, or perhaps it was the wrong time of her life, but when she returned to Japan she decided to get very serious about her career and within 3 years she had reached her goals. Now I know that it's not just hard work that opens doors in the entertainment industries, because there are so many people who work very hard and never get discovered. I can't tell you exactly what it is - I think it's a combination of working hard and being at the right place at the right time. Remember, most eternal artists/authors were not famous during their lives and there are plenty of forgettable famous folks in our current era. But I digress...
Anyways, she worked hard, producing so much new work and playing at so many concerts and her 3 year goal of playing at a famous concert hall in Tokyo happened. Of course, she also probably had some financial and emotional support to go about this, but 3 years is a relatively short time to reach one's goals.
As for Shiina Ringo, who is about the same age as Angela Aki, her music is much more angry or powerfully emotional than Aki's. She's more punkish in some ways. There is this weird connection between the two of them though. According to Wikipedia (the all-knowing), Angela Aki was at a Shiina Ringo concert in Tokyo, when she decided to pursue her career seriously. I think I prefer Shiina Ringo's work to Angela Aki's, because it's much more artistic and edgy, though I do love Angela Aki's voice more than Shiina Ringo's. Shiina Ringo's music digs deep into pain, isolation, and the societal and self pressures we face. While she began her solo career more mainstream, her work has become very adventurous. She goes back and forth career wise between solo work and her band Tokyo Jihen.
I hope you enjoy listening to their music as much as I do!