By Yusuke Tsuruta / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterMika Nakashima’s hit ballad “Yuki no Hana” (Snow Flower) is enjoying a second bloom in popularity amid the release of a film inspired by the song and the launch of the singer’s best-of album “Bible,” commemorating the 15th anniversary of the ballad’s release.
“Yuki no Hana” is a touching, memorable love song with universal appeal that Nakashima has performed countless times. Yet she said: “It is the scariest [song] to sing. It takes complete focus.”
The ballad not only requires an accomplished singing ability, but also, because it is widely known, listeners each imagine the song in their own distinct way.
“Although I just want to sing it normally, I feel like the bar is being raised [through everyone’s expectations],” Nakashima said, laughing. “If you read the lyrics carefully, it’s a passionate and sincere song. It’s a heartwarming piece that changes depending on the arrangement and the way it is sung.”
The song was first released in 2003 but she originally received it in 2001, shortly after her debut. Upon hearing it for the first time, “I genuinely thought it was a beautiful song,” she said, but “I didn’t have the confidence to sing it.” Instead, she kept it to one side for two years until her ability had improved.
“The writer of the song, Ryoki Matsumoto, said, ‘I won’t ever write a better song,’” Nakashima said. “I wondered whether I was the right person to sing it, but he insisted, ‘It’s for you.’”
Asked why the song’s popularity has endured, she said she did not have a clear answer, but added: “I think many people probably got to know me through this song. When I received the demo, the song had me spellbound, too.”
At concerts, she is determined to be involved in how the song is performed, actively taking part in stage direction and costume choices. During an acoustic tour last year she performed the song with a raw voice overflowing with passion.
“With just my vocals, a piano and bass, we pushed ourselves to the limit to hold the attention of the audience,” she said.
In the new film “Yuki no Hana,” Miyuki (played by Ayami Nakajo), who has been given only one year to live, asks Yusuke (Hiroomi Tosaka), an aspiring glass artist, to be her boyfriend for a month in return for ¥1 million. The film beautifully depicts the brief romance.
“It’s great that such a story evolved from the song,” Nakashima said.
Through the film and the best-of album, many more people will probably have opportunities to listen to “Yuki no Hana.”