A Buddhist ceremony commemorating the death of one of Japan's most beloved entertainers, Hibari Misora, was held in Tokyo this week at the Imperial Hotel, where she performed her final dinner show. Some 620 relatives and acquaintances attended the ceremony.
Her eldest son Kazuya Kato, 39, who is the president of Hibari Production, a company that continues to serve her fans, announced that a luxury box set of Misora's songs, featuring 1,001 songs on 58 CDs will go on sale for 120,000 yen on Aug 3. He also announced plans to hold a music festival in his mother's memory.
Misora died in a Tokyo hospital in 1989 at the age of 52 after contracting pneumonia. Her death was mourned by millions of people across Japan. From the year following her death, television and radio stations began to play her song "Kawa no Nagare no Yō ni" annually on her birthday to show respect. In 1997, an NHK poll showed that over 10 million people believed it to be the greatest Japanese song of all time.
The altar at the ceremony was adorned with the image of a phoenix to represent her continued popularity and success even after death. After Misora passed away, demand for her albums grew significantly. During her lifetime, she recorded some 1,200 songs. By the year 2001, Misora had sold 80 million records. It wasn't until after her death that she was awarded the People's Honor Award for her notable contributions to music. She became the first woman to win the accolade.© Compiled from news reports